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A fast rising Businessman in Bamenda has made a donation of 50.000FCFA to the Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) to support the planting of some trees in the Bamenda Highlands. Godlove Ngu, 38 made this gesture recently at the SURUDEV Head Office in Bamenda during celebrations of SURUDEV’s award by The Guardian Post Newspaper.

In an interview with this Business guru whose enterprise is known as ‘Westboy’, Shade 429 of the Bamenda main market, he said his reasons for supporting SURUDEV are many. ‘First this NGO started as a joke, my friend has been talking to me about the importance of environmental sustainability but I didn’t take him serious until I started seeing the number of national and internal recognition he was being given. Plus I have witnessed how climate change affects us and I understand tree planting can help to mitigate the effects’. Mr. Ngu equally said as a business man, he things he takes a lot from the environment and it is but natural for him to give back.

On his part, the executive Director of SURUDEV, Kari Jackson thanked the donor for his kind gesture ‘I am elated and feel proud of him for supporting our project. It is a proof of changing mentalities through corporate social responsibility’. Mr. Kari said the money will be used to enrich the forests of Kom-Wum forest with some 50 chimp nesting trees species. He equally urged other entrepreneurs and businessmen to take up the challenge in giving back to the community.

By Regina Fonjia Leke

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The Sustainable Run for Development better known by its acronym SURUDEV has launched a new project which will open fresh perspectives into the conservation of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pantroglodyttes ellioti). The project dubbed ‘Habitat Restoration of the Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzee” was launched in Fundong, home to the Kom-wum forest of the Bamenda highland which hosts this rare species on February 26, 2016.

The event brought together the entire project team from SURUDEV headed by the Executive Director, Kari Jackson and government authorities including the First Deputy Mayor of Fundong Council, Divisional Delegates of the Environment and Forestry/Wildlife, Principals and Head Teachers of school and of course members of the community.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of SURUDEV, Kari Jackson explained that objective of the launching ceremony was to meet with the formal and informal leaders, chiefs and discuss how this project will run and how their different contributions would be vital in the conservation of the P.T ellioti

It would be recalled that the Kom-wum forest is one of the few remaining natural habitats of the Pt.ellioti (Nigerian-Cameroon) chimp and thus a center of attraction for conservation. Metang, Baisu, are communities close to the Kom-wum forest. They are extremely rural forest community with its inhabitants relying or surviving mainly on the forest and with a population of more than 700 people, there is bound to be exploitation. Their major activities are farming and hunting (agriculture) which are characteristics of most rural livelihood. By this style of life, the forest is no doubt abused and over exploited which is what has led to a population decline of the chimps in the last decade. But because there is a need to conserve and protect our biodiversity and environment, SURUDEV via its project “Habitat Restoration of the Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzee”, the organization has decided to reach the communities closest to the forest and empower them on a sustainable style of living without affecting the forest and also to protect the Pt ellioti for their own posterity and for the world at large.

In this light, after the launching ceremony, Participants were introduced to sustainable market gardening, afro-forestry, tree planting, green school, cane rat keeping, and bee keeping as alternative means to survive without relying greatly on the forest resources. An informative chat with stickers was later shared to the participants for better understanding and also to indicate how realistic the project will be.

The participants happily embraced the project and looked forward to working with SURUDEV. A family picture was taken after the work shop and certain recommendations were made by participants notably; the need for more sensitization, need for forest guards and the need for a forest management committee.

Written by Mongo Victor Mbabit

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The Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) has donated over 30 tins of seeds for Market gardening, Fodder/Pasture and Agro-forestry to some community members of Baisu and Metang, all forest adjacent communities of the Kom-Wum forest hosting the endangered Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzee., The seeds included; Celery, Leeks, Cabbage, Cotmanjo, Huckleberry Rebi, Macun, Bracharia, Acacia Leucaena and Prunus Africana. The community members were equally trained on agro-forestry, market gardening and bee keeping as alternatives to their traditional forest chasing and hunting for feeding. Pasture/fodder seeds were distributed to the indigenous Fulanis in other to discourage bush burning and over grazing. Field demonstration on market gardening and nursery creation for agro-forestry were equally done for the inhabitants to learn and eventually practice when planting their seeds.

The donation which took place on March 29, 2016, is in line with the objectives of SURUDEV’s ‘Habitat restoration of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee’ Project. The aim is to divert the attention of people living adjacent to the habitat of the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, from relying heavily on the forest, to some alternative sources of livelihood.

Baisu just like Metang are communities close to the heart of the Kom-wum forest of the Bamenda highland a natural habitat of the Pt.ellioti (Nigerian-Cameroon) chimp. Baisu is an extremely rural forest community with its inhabitants relying or surviving mainly on the forest and with a population of about 100 there is bound to be exploitation. Their major activities are farming and hunting.

During the donation, the SURUDEV team educated and empowered the community members about their forest, the chimpanzees, and how to live sustainably without much reliance on the forest.

Educating the Baisu community on biodiversity conservation and the protection of the Nigerian-Cameroon chimp is just in time when the population of the chimp according by the IUCN status is on the red list and classified as Endangered. So there is need to conserve and protect our natural heritage. By empowering them on sustainable market gardening techniques, tree planting, agro-forestry, folder crop cultivation, bee keeping and the cultivation of non-timber shrubs such as eru, and bush mango, it is hoped these sustainable ways will keep them away from the forest.

By Mongo Victor Mbabit

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The Guardian Post Newspaper Achievement Award

The Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) a Bamenda-based non- governmental organization has won The Guardian Post Newspaper Achievement Award for the 2015 best NGO of the year for championing the fight against poverty in rural communities through the promotion of sustainable agriculture. The award ceremony took place on March 4, 2016 at the Mountain Hotel in Buea.

Presenting the award to SURUDEV’s boss, An Official of The Guardian Post Newspaper Award Committee congratulated the NGO for her enormous contribution in promoting environmental safety, building climate change resilience and promoting food security especially in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. He explained that just like for the other laureates, SURUDEV was nominated along other NGOs and readers casted their votes followed by the sitting of the award committee which proclaimed SURUDEV the overall winner in this category.

Accepting the award, the Executive Director of SURUDEV, Kari Jackson thanked The Guardian Post for recognizing the efforts his organization is putting in place and pledged to do more ‘ I feel humbled going home with this trophy. To think that SURUDEV was voted best NGO only inspires me to do more. I take it as a challenge to reach more communities and help in providing solutions to key environmental problems’ Kari told The Guardian Post.

Reacting to the recognition, SURUDEV’s Public Relations Officer, Regina Fonjia Leke, who accompanied the Director to receive the award said ‘ It brings me great pleasure to know that people are actually watching what we are doing’ She told The Guardian Post that SURUDEV is consolidating its position as one of the leading non-profits in promoting environmental protection through a series of communication strategies notably; the launch of a new monthly environmental newsletter dubbed ‘The Ecologist’, which is currently in its third edition and a weekly radio program called ‘Your Environment With SURUDEV’. She says the reason for this is to better advocate for Cameroonians to be more actively engaged in seeking solutions to environmental problems such as climate change, deforestation, water and sanitation, wildlife conservation, loss of water catchments, all crucial problems currently plaguing people in the Northwest Region of Bamenda.

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The Bamenda Highlands is home to some of the world’s rarest endemic bird species. A total of 35 endemic bird species in this ecological area have been under serious threats in the last decade that has seen most of their population halved. One of the biggest threat to the existence of these birds is habitat fragmentation due to pressure from human activities including; forest clearance for farmlands, grazing, forest fires, illegal logging for firewood and timber. One of the most threatened species Bannerman’s turaco listed endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s red list has suffered in the last decades. Research in the mid 90s found the species in several remaining montane forest remnants in the Bamenda highlands. However follow up research by 2000 indicated that most of these forests fragments had almost completely disappeared with the bird either absent or only a few pairs left. The population estimated then between 2500-9999 has more than halved today especially following forest fires in the kilum-ijim forest which hosted the greatest number. 500 hectares of the kilum-ijim forest was burnt around lake oku in march 2000 and today with increase forest clearance, the threat continues. These bird population also decines because of its very small range of less thatn 2km and they are hunted for their colourful feathers which are used to decorate illustrious sons of the Northwest region.

The crisis facing the bannerman’s turaco is the same facing the other endemic bird species and it was for this reason that the Bamenda headquartered NGO, Sustainable run for Development in 2013 launched a project to galvanize community engagement in the preservation of some seven key species notably; Banded Wattle eye, Bangwa forest –Warbler, Bannerman’s Turaco, Bannerman’s weaver, Green –Breasted Bush- shrike, Mountain greenbul and Bamenda Apalis.  In an interview with the Executive Director of this NGO, Kari Jackson, he said ‘We initiated  this project three years back because of the growing threats these birds are facing and the fear of them going extinct in the near future. Birds of great importance. They are dispersal agents and they are responsible for planting many medicinal plants and other trees of biodiversity importance in the forest today. Their beauty, the songs they sing keep us happy, so why not protect them?. Mr. Jackson said the objectives of the project included to do reconnaissance surveys of forest patches that make up the Ako-mbembe Forest Reserve in the Ako-subdivision, in Donga Mantung Division, the Kom-wum Forest of Boyo, Menchum Division, in the neigbouring villages of the recently created national reserve- Kimbi-Fungong national park, Tubah forest, the Balingemba and the Kilum-Ijim forest.

Other objectives include; to crack a way forward with forest management officials on how to enrich the forest in order to curb forest fragmentation, to promote environmental education in schools , put trade-practioners who use bird parts at the forefront of conservation action.

The project also aims to sensitize forest adjacent communities through media productions.

‘This explains why this February, we produced 2000 bird posters carrying pictures of the seven most endangered birds, so that the villagers can identify the birds with what they see in the wild and take individual actions. The number of birds is dropping. Bannerman’s turaco and banded wattle eye number less than 3500 nature individuals in the wild. The time to act is now’ said Kari Jackson

On their part some of the villagers have embraced the project, saying they miss birds ‘ I remember when growing, we had birds everywhere, they will wake you up every morning and their sweet melody will send you to sleep. But today, until you go right deep into the forest you won’t see them,  I think it is important we engage ourselves to protect the birds.

In the light of this trend, the Bamenda based NGO, Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV) has been mobilizing forest adjacent communities in the conservation of the remaining individuals in the forest.