In addition to Mount Cameroon and Mount Oku, Bakossi is one of the three most important sites for the conservation of local endemic species along the Cameroon highlands, especially given that its area of upland forest is much greater than those on nearby Mounts Kupe and Manengouba. Along with the latter sites, these mountain complexes have provided a fertile environment for speciation and endemism acting as ancient Quaternary refugia for forest species communities. Given the high biodiversity and number endemic species found at the site, a management plan is in development with the aim of designating most of the Bakossi Mountains as protection forest with a total area of 54,983 ha. Unfortunately, an old, abandoned road along the southeastern edge of Bakossi is being reopened with European funds and, inevitably, the beautiful lowland forest around Mahole and southward will suffer, as villages will be encouraged to develop along the new road. If this project is achieved, the new Protected Areas system for Bakossiland will be Cameroon’s next test case in governance and partnerships aiming to conserve rainforest biodiversity and develop rural areas. This project would enhance conservation measures initiated at the site in collaboration with the local community, with a focus on amphibians.
The endemic amphibians presently known from the Bakossi Mountains include the recently discovered Guitar Frog (Leptodactylodon wildi) (EN) from the Edib Hills in Bakossi. It is thought that at least ten species (six of which are yet to be described) within the genera Afrixalus, Arthroleptis, Cardioglossa, Leptodactylodon and Phrynodon are considered to be strictly endemic to the Bakossi area and the surrounding mountains. The sub-montane hills of Bakossiland are also important for a diverse group of regional endemics unparalleled in Africa including the Cameroon Slippery Frog (Conraua robusta) (VU) and Hairy Frog (Trichobatrachus robustus) that are abundant in the region and dependent on the clear, fast flowing mid-altitude streams.
The key partner at this site would be the Cameroonian Government through the Ministry of Forestry and the Department of Wildlife and Protected Areas (MINFOF-DFAP), in collaboration with WWF and IUCN Cameroon. Local stakeholders involved in the project will include local communities, local NGOs involved in research activities at the site, and Dr. Gonwouo Nono LeGrand of Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF). Other sub-groups will include farmers, hunters, medicine collectors and fuel wood gatherers.
The following activities will be conducted:
• Practical conservation action around the Bakossi Mountains involving partnerships among local communities, government and NGOs.
• Identification and mapping of all forest patches and streams where endemic amphibians have been documented.
• Organize consultation meetings with all stakeholders around Mt. Bakossi to discuss conservation measures being initiated and agree on the protected area’s boundaries.
• Capacity building and training of all local stakeholders for participatory site-management community oriented approaches to conservation.
• Dissemination of key messages from projects through informational signs at amphibian habitat hotspots, brochures, reports, media, and newspaper articles.
• Encouragement and facilitation of visits by stakeholders to other montane forest areas where similar projects are being implemented.
• Development of a website for the project to highlight project activities with key documents and outputs available online.
This project will result in information regarding potential status as a national park, including the conservation and sustainability of the montane forests through the management of conservation measures undertaken at priority sites around the Bakossi Mountains. A montane forest site with protection status will be created including legislation, boundary demarcation and development of a management plan that involves the participation of local stakeholders with core protected area and forest zones managed by communities. NGOs, government staff, and local communities will have increased capacity for planning, management, community approaches, protection, monitoring, and making a positive contribution towards the conservation of montane forest. Importantly, awareness will be raised with the general public and the international conservation community on project activities and ongoing conservation measures.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation