Cameroon – Anglophone Crisis: Environmentalists Express Fear over Future of
Endangered Species as Population Invade Forests
Par Kiven B.,
April 17, 2019
The fallout of the ongoing sociopolitical unrest in the Anglophone regions,
has seen over a good number of persons seeking refuge in the forests and
bushes, with some establishing settlements.
This invasion, according to environmentalists, pose a threat to animal
habitat especially the future of some endangered species in forests or
parks within the North West and the South West region.
Coordinator of an environmental nongovernmental organisation and Award
winning Environmental journalist Regina Leke, explains that the Cross River
gorilla (found in forests along the Cameroonian-Nigerian border of Cross
River State), like many other gorilla subspecies, prefers a dense forest
habitat that is uninhabited by humans.
Due to the Cross River gorilla’s body size they require large and diverse
areas of the forest to meet their habitat requirements.
To her, they risk migrating, which can easily lead to extinction. “It’s a
specie that is found only in that part of the world and they are less than
300 of them in the wild. With the current crisis, many people have moved to
the forests, minus those who are seeking shelter in the forests. Most of
these areas have become the camps of separatist fighters. I take for
example the camps of Lebialem Division, which has some of these Cross River
gorillas. It is at the highlands in a protected area that the government
created in 2014. Now the Red Dragons are like the most dangerous separatist
group. They are living in the forest and they are using some of these
animals as food?, said Leke.
“Moreover they are establishing settlements, which reduces the habitat of
the gorillas and other wildlife specie. So this can cause these animals to
move, whereas migration is very dangerous for some species. Because when
they migrate out of their comfort zones, some of them loss their lives,
some find themselves in towns and are shot, some of them move to forest
areas they are not used to and they end up dying. The crisis has affected
endemic wildlife species”, continued Leke.
She regretted that another specie, Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzees around Oku
as well as others were at risk.
?You cannot actually stop these persons from eating the animals because
people have to feed. So what we can do is to join voices in calling on
government to provide solutions to the ongoing crisis, so that life can
return to normal and animals regain their place in the forests?.
Another concern raised by the environmental journalist is the fact that
some protected areas have become very exposed, due to the absence of
Eco-guards, who have all ran away, abandoning the parks. She mentioned the
Takamanda park in Mamfe which has rare species like the Nigeria-Cameroon
“If a park is now exposed, the eco-guard that usually go there twice every
month to do anti-poaching patrols to secure the forest, are no longer going
there, imagine what is happening. Poachers even from different countries
might exploit the area. Because we have what we call the trans boundary
trade, which is a very dangerous activity to wildlife.
“They come, kill elephants, take their tusks in all impunity.
“What is happening at the Takamanda national park, is the same thing that
is happening at the Korup national park in Mundemba, all eco-guards have
fled, everybody is running for their lives?, said the environmentalist.
In order to preserve its wildlife, Cameroon created more than 20 protected
reserves comprising of national parks, forest reserves, zoos and
sanctuaries. In the Anglophone regions where people have fled their homes
to forests, and Eco guards abandoning their roles, it is feared that the
country might lose its most cherished species.