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13315662 1109403332454528 4218040352027306842 nEnvironmental actors in the Northwest Region, led by the NW Regional Delegation of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development have made an adventurous trip to the Tubah Upland forest in Kedjom Keku Forest hosting some of the few remaining species of the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees, endemic and endangered bird species such as the bannerman’s turaco.

The visit was in line with commemorative activities marking the 2016 edition of world Environment Day celebrated under the theme ‘ZERO TOLERANCE TO ILLEFGAL WILDLIFE TRADE with the slogan GO WILD FOR LIFE.

The Tubah Upland Forest in kedjom keku in the Bamenda Highlands are one of the few remaining locations on the globe, where this type of rare forest can still be found. It is one of the richest, but also most endangered biotopes on the Earth. It’s categorized as a Biodiversity hotspot, a place with high concentration of rare, endangered and almost extinct endemic species.

The fieldtrip witnessed the participation of environmental stakeholders with SURUDEV actively participating in all the activities.

The team departed at about 10 am to the Tubah Upland Forest. Upon arrival, the team met with the leader of kedjom keku who cried foul about the high levels of deforestation and destruction of watershed areas as a quest of firewood, pasture and farmland. Also SURUDEV team with the other stakeholders gathered at a small hall in the forest. Mr. Martin a Researcher from Czech Republic who has been working in the Tubah Upland Forest for 5yrs gave a talk about the increasing rate of deforestation and the fast disappearance of endemic species due to the encroachment of farmers and grazers. He said the area is also quite important for bird diversity with a high percentage being endemic like the colourful, Tauraco bennermani. He also said Tubah Upland Forest is a home high level of endemic species we can even find in other realms – reptile, amphibian and insects. In order to combat deforestation Mr. Michael in collaboration with the community have planted trees over 4 hectares of land and were currently operating a nursery.

Another stakeholder gave a talk about the rate of deforestation and inadequate legislation to enforce laws in the forest domain. The regional delegate of the ministry of the environment, nature protection and sustainable development (MINEPDEP) welcomed the team once more and cautioned the team to be precautionary.

Mr. Martin coordinated SURUDEV team and other stakeholders during the hiking. The poultry was shown which was next to a fish pond and the fowl dung from the poultry was use to feed the fishes in the pond. Just opposite the pond is the school Mr. Martin’s NGO build for the community and the school field. Also, the gardens were the people cultivated corn, beans, carrot among other crops using organic manure was shown. During the hike, different forest portions were seen that had been cut down for firewood or burnt for farming or grazing. Cows could be seen grazing at different portions in the forest.

These different cases had been reported but nothing was done with the culprits. The view of the Tubah Upland Forest is that of a typical montane forest. The beautiful landscapes views give it its aesthetic value. At high attitudes the beautiful lowland of the grass field could be appreciated. The supposed habitat of the Cameroon Nigeria chimpanzee was shown down the steep valleys. A family photo was taken with some of the people in the community that followed us hiking. The hike was about 4 hours and at the end, SURUDEV team and other stakeholders gathered at the forest school yard for light refreshments.The traditional dish of kedjom keku people which is corn fufu and huckleberry was served with palm wine and juice. The occasion was graced by vanilla city who presented a song on the environment. The Regional Delegate of MINEPDEP gave his last words of gratitude and appreciation to the community and to every stakeholder including SURUDEV who took part in the fieldtrip. Some stakeholders continue camping that night to continue the following day with the tree planting activity while SURUDEV and others returned back late that same evening.

By Inokoh Biliet

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As part of commemorative activities to mark the 2016 edition of the World Environment Day(WED), some 300 trees were planted at the Chomba water catchments, one of the biggest water catchments of the Bamenda highlands, Northwest Cameroon, on June 1, 2016 to launch activities marking the WED. The activity was led by the NW Regional Delegate for Environment, Protection of Nature for Sustainable Development (MINEPDED), Momah Henry environmental NGOs and the network of environmental stakeholders known by its acronym NESTCAM.

The trees were donated by the emerging non-profit, Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) whose Chief Executive Officer, Kari Jackson drilled the population on the essence of planting the trees at the catchment and what must be done to make sure the trees grow to maturity. Hear him ‘ We plant these trees here to ensure the continuous flow of water. This catchment accounts for a significant proportion of water supplied in the region, so we need to make sure it does not dry up. Our team will come here every month to monitor the progress of these trees’ he said.

Mr. Kari hinted that the number of trees were to be increased to one thousand in the days ahead, saying the 300 planted was just part of celebrations marking the World Environment Day.

Speaking during the planting activity, the Care taker of the Chomba water catchment, hinted the population that the catchment prior to the visit had already benefited over 2000 trees from SURUDEV.

During this event the residents of Chomba expressed their satisfaction and appreciation for this timely intervention by MINEPDED, SURUDEV and other civil organisations to make sure water continue flowing in Chomba. They promised to take proper care of these trees to make sure they grow to maturity and serve the purpose for which it is planted.

Speaking during the event, the Regional Delegate Momah Henry said “The Chomba water catchment which is one the largest water catchments in the North West region is a biodiversity hotspots which serves as habitat to some of most important birds and animal species”. Thus, it was not a mistake that this year’s world environment day which had as theme “ZERO TOLERANCE TO ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE” and slogan Go Wild for Life was launched in this Catchment. The trip was a difficult and interesting one as the team went through hurdles in other to get to the catchment.

Speaking during this event His Rural Highness the Chief Fobussi III Fon of Chomba expressed his gratitude to the team and said his doors are always open to the team as he is not only a Fon but an environmentalist as well. He also joint his voice to that of his inhabitants and promised the team that the sustainability of those trees will be their priority. As nature holds it, just a few minutes after the exodus of the team from the catchment it rained cats and dogs at the catchment. That was thus evidence that this trees will grow and serve its purpose and water will as long as human existence be flowing in Chomba. The day ended with the taking of a family photo and refreshment.

By Godwill Tansi

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13318925 1086891654703073 509866961 nIt is already 3 years today since one of US leading Zoos, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Sustainability Fund entered into a sustainable partnership with one of Cameroon's emerging NGO, Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) Funding from Pittsburgh has gone a long way in enhancing biodiversity conservation especially endemic endangered birds of the Bamenda highlands.

The partnership between SURUDEV and the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s Sustainability Fund dates as far back as December 2012. The ideas came within a backdrop of one of SURUDEV’s projects aimed at conserving biodiversity in the Bamenda highlands especially birds.

The partnership sought therefore to initiate the restoration of the depleted bird’s populations, and protect their ecosystems in the Bamenda highlands of the North West Region of Cameroon.
The project activities included the production of posters, development of community leadership, reconnaissance survey of birds' habitat and nesting sites, school training sessions information dissemination and support building.

The desired outcomes included increased population of the birds, sustained improvement in local knowledge, attitudes, behavior and greater support for and involvement in the management process of the birds. As the partnership went on the partnering organisations saw a need of expanding the project to cover all the forest tropical montane to sub-montane forest strands of the Bamenda highland, tree planting and also to involve alternative livelihoods for forest adjacent communities in a bid to put smiles on the faces of the community conservers.

More than 20,000 primary and secondary school kids have been trained on bird conservation through interactive arts display, posters and other informative materials. Five communities comprising more than 30,000 people adjacent to the forests have been trained and sensitized on the need to protect the remaining strand of tropical montane to sub montane forests which are habitats to some 7 most endemic Birds species, 35 endemic range-restricted and more than 800 birds Species. Local councilors and chiefs who are the custodians of the people’s cultures are already on the know about the situation of these birds. One of the most important fruits of these projects are; the signing of two MoUs with the local councils for proper forest management, the creation of tree nurseries and the involvement of two government agencies in charge of wildlife and the environment in Cameroon (The Regional and Divisional Delegations of Forestry and wildlife and that of Environment, protection of nature and sustainable Development). The dream is to reach all the forest adjacent area in the Bamenda highlands and the whole of Cameroon.

By Kari Jackson

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webSURUDEV Executive Director Kari Jackson addressing students on climate change

It was a lot of pomp and pageantry yesterday, May 18, 2016 at Government High School Nsongwa as over 500 students from four different schools came together to partake in SURUDEV’s annual Green School Competition. The slogan for this year’s celebration was dubbed ‘Champions for Climate Change’ with the overall intention being to increase the knowledge of young people on climate change and make them part of the adaptation struggle.

web 2Champions and other students/administration and SURUDEV stakeholders pose after event

Students aiming to be the overall champions took part in a quiz which tested their knowledge on different issues related to climate change, from causes to effects and mitigation/adaptation strategies. The students came from the host Institution, GHS Nsongwa, GBHS Bayelle, GBHS Banshie and GHS Atiela.

web 3 students brainstorm on different questions relating to climate change

At the end of the competition, the host institution, GHS Nsongwa emerged victorious scoring 10 on 15 in the climate change challenge quiz while GBHS bayelle was the runner up with 8 on 15.

web 4Overall Climate change champion receive prize from principal

The students were all given prizes ranging from books, hygiene and sanitation equipments to tshirts and sensitization materials. In addition SURUDEV handed the host school 100 ornamental trees which were planted around the campus of the school.

web 5

SURUDEV Executive guides Principals as she plants trees

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The continuous survival of one of the world’s most endangered wildlife species, the Nigerian Cameroon Chimpanzee also known as the Pantroglodytes elliotti will remain a myth if strict measures are not put in place to halt an exacerbating rate of Trans boundary poaching currently going on in some forest reserves the Bamenda Highlands. According the Northwest Regional Delegate for Forestry and wildlife, Ms. Mbah Grace, as long as people continue eating bush meat, poaching will always be there but what is bugging Cameroon’s authorities of forestry and wildlife is the high rate of trans boundary poaching in the Bamenda Highlands that has seen the population of the world’s most endangered subspecies of chimpanzee, the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee dwindled in the last ten years. ‘The bigger problem is that of trans boundary.

Highly skilled poachers sneak into Cameroon from Nigeria to hunt the chimps in large numbers and unlike small scale hunters in Cameroon who can be tracked down by our patrol units, monitoring such illegal activities is difficult because they poach and take to markets in Nigeria’. Ms. Mbah told this Reporter that most of the Poachers come from Nigeria’s Benue state and they come to the Ako-Mbembe reserve and part of the Fungom reserve, all sites hosting the Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzees. Some of the poachers also come through Furuawa on the borders and given the rugged and enclave nature of the terrain, getting these poachers is not so evident. She hinted that her Ministry has had trans boundary meetings with Nigerians but admitted that the alarming trans boundary poaching facing the chimpanzees of the Bamenda Highlands could be attributed to the fact that as of now there is no established functional trans boundary platform for the Benue region as compared to other Chimpanzee sites like the Takamanda and Kagwene Parks. She looks forward to a day that Cameroon can sign a convention with Nigeria to see how to stop trans boundary poaching.

Research indicates that the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee is the least studied and most endangered subspecies of chimpanzee and less than 50 are in sanctuaries and rescue centers. Of the four subspecies, it has the smallest geographic distribution and lowest estimated total population size, with approximately 3,500 to 9,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The vulnerability of Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee has also worsened by habitat fragmentation. Statistics from the Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife estimate a more than 40% reduction of one of the main forest, the Ako-mbembe forest, hosting the species. Another forest patch, the newly created Kimbi-Fongom National Park, has witnessed high levels of encroachments in recent times.

This is unsurprisingly so given the Northwest region of Cameroon forms the heart of the Bamenda Highlands, an area known to support one of the highest levels of human population densities in Cameroon, with approximately 100–250 people km-2. Consequently, the conversion of forest to pasture and agriculture has been dramatic and widespread, and the landscape has changed considerably over the last century, with just a few fragmented forests remaining that hold only remnants of their previous primate assemblages. Naturally, chimpanzee densities have become extremely low and Ms. Mbah explained that even though no biological surveys have been conducted to estimate the population of the ellioti chimp in the Bamenda Higlands, the reduction in population is evident from reduced encounter rates, dung and nests.

It was in the light of all these challenges facing the conservation of the Nigeria Cameroon Chimp that in 2011, delegates from Nigeria and Cameroon met and drew a Regional Action Plan, some of the main objectives being to foster anti-poaching patrols, create corridors linking chimpanzee sanctuaries and uplifting the status of some protected areas. Thus, the Ministry of Forestry in frantic efforts to protect the remaining population of the P.t ellioti has been carrying out law enforcement, anti-poaching patrols and also giving some of the areas a higher protected status, such as the Ako-Mbembe which moved from a mere forest reserve into a Forest Management Unit. Similarly, the Fungom forest reserve and the Kimbi game reserve have been merged to form a National Park with a corridor linking them and an extension along the borders of Nigeria with a conservator, more eco-guards and more activities being planned.

The Ministry has also been engaging forest adjacent communities through forest management committees which work closely with conservators to discuss issues surrounding management. However diehard hunters some who spoke to this Reporter on condition of anonymity say, saying goodbye to hunting is saying goodbye to their livelihoods and unless they can be provided with meaningful and sustainable alternative sources of livelihood, quitting hunting will be difficult.

Against this backdrop, a local non-profit dubbed sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) is initiating some development initiatives to help turn the people away from the forest. Through a project christened ‘Habitat Restoration of the Kom-Wum forest for the Conservation of the Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzee’ this NGO is working with the forest adjacent communities by providing them with alternative livelihood and enrichment of the forest with chimp nesting trees. The Executive Director of SURUDEV, Kari Jackson urged Cameroonians to be more friendly to conservation, explaining our wildlife forms part of our national patrimony and our heritage and it will be a shame if we loose everything.

In Ms. Mbah Grace’s words God created the world and gave it an ecological balance, ‘when we kill the wildlife, it will affect us individually because there are some seeds that have to pass through the canals of an animal before they can germinate’. She added that if the wildlife is properly managed, the tourism industry will boom and highlighted that it will be a shame if all these chimp go extinct one day and we will be telling the future generations that there used to be chimps in the Northwest as we say today that there used to be lions.

By Regina Fonjia Leke, Environmental Journalist