At 3,011 m, Mount Oku is the second highest mountain in West Africa, after Mount Cameroon. The site, also known as Kilum–Ijim, is a proposed Community Forest Reserve. The enclosed area of 20,000 ha, about half of which is montane forest, is now the only extensive area of forest left anywhere in the Bamenda Highlands. Although the mountains are naturally geographically isolated, human activities are increasingly fragmenting, degrading, and isolating the remaining forest patches, including through agricultural conversion and logging. Based on the conservation status of this area, the local community, under the supervision of the Cameroonian Government, should regulate forest exploitation, but in practice very little or no monitoring and law enforcement are in place. As a result, only part of the community forests are well protected, particularly those with traditional rules that have prohibited access by the community. This project proposes to enhance Mt. Oku’s present conservation measures implemented by the local community and BirdLife International.
Mount Oku is home to several frogs endemic to the Cameroon highlands, including at least three that are not found in any other region in Cameroon. The Lake Oku Clawed Frog (Xenopus longipes) is found only in Lake Oku and is classified as Critically Endangered. While the Lake Oku Clawed Frog is only found is this region, the Volcano Clawed Frog (Xenopus amieti) (NT) is more widespread around the Bamenda Highlands. Also known to be endemic to the site is the Mount Oku Grassland Toad (Wolterstorffina chirioi) (CR).
The key partners at this site will be the Cameroonian Government through the Ministry of Forestry and Department of Wildlife and Protected Areas (MINFOF-DFAP) in collaboration with BirdLife International and Dr. Gonwouo Nono LeGrand of Cameroon Herpetology-Conservation Biology Foundation (CAMHERP-CBF). Other sub-groups would include livestock owners, hunters, medicine/honey collectors and fuel wood gatherers.
This project will involve local communities in decision-making and practical action for the management and protection of Mt. Oku, and will foster their partnership with government and NGOs for biodiversity conservation needs. Another goal is to improve the capacity for the sustainable management of resources by those communities living in and around Mt. Oku, reducing the incidence of illegal and unsustainable exploitation of resources.
• Initiate consultation meetings with all stakeholders involved in the management of the Mt. Oku forest to identify gaps in proper forest management.
• Identification of all land use practices around Mt. Oku, while mapping all forest patches and streams where endemic amphibians have been documented.
• 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.
• Development of a website for the project highlighting project activities with key documents and outputs available online.
This project will result in the identification of mitigation measures that will reduce negative impacts on the Mt. Oku forest. This will be done in a participatory approach since the local people at the site use the forest on a daily basis. The project will also elaborate or update a management plan that contains information about the local community around Mt. Oku and the legal entity regarding community forest management. Montane forests will be conserved and sustainably managed through conservation measures undertaken at priority sites around Mt. Oku. A montane forest site with protection status will be achieved 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. NGO, government staff, and local communities will have increased capacity for planning, management, community approaches, protection, monitoring, and will make a positive contribution towards the conservation of montane forest. Importantly, the general public and the international conservation community will be notified of project activities and ongoing conservation measures.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation