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Book Review: Title: Cameroon 

Author: Sone Nkoke Christopher
Publisher: Anucam Educational Books Plc (2012)
Reviewer: Azore Opio — Sone’s beautifully delineated and lavishly illustrated book opens with an overview of Cameroon’s physical set-up, brief history, political organisation, demographics, the economy and arts and cultures, national parks, Cameroon’s wildlife laws and moves afterwards to animals and birds species. The book is crowned with graceful reptiles and amphibians.

This intriguing subject-by-subject guide to Cameroon’s wildlife is studded with gems, from brief but rigorous explanations about the various cultures revered in the main regions and their landmarks – the Rhumsiki Peak in the Far North, the Benue River, the Lamido’s Palace in Ngaoundere, the Baka pygmies in the East, Kribi’s golden beaches, the Ngondo Festival of the Doualas, the Muaneguba Twin Lakes in Kupe-Muanenguba in the South West Region, the Palace of the Sultan of Bamoun in Foumban in the West and the flashy traditional costumes and elegant dances of the Grassfields of the Northwest Region.

It is distressing, however, to find in Sone’s book evidence of the Cameroon wildlife rangers’ glaring ignorance of certain wildlife species and an incomprehensive listing of Class A animals (totally protected animals because they are endangered species –many critically endangered veering towards extinction), although, the list, according to Sone, is periodically reviewed by the concerned Ministry in charge of wildlife.

These and the need for more attention to be focused on species normally regarded as less important such as birds, chameleons or skinks rather than on flagship species like the big cats, great apes, rhinos, elephants, etc, motivated Sone to concentrate on depicting and describing, in detail, the marginal species and their various habitats in a bid to complement “a noticeable lack of information concerning the species.”

Given its title, Sone’s book is worthy in tone and content. His trawl through Cameroon’s wilderness is rigorously anchored and made more enjoyable by his gift to turn unburnished wildlife material into observational gold. He is particularly good, and serious, on the place of endangered animal and bird species, noting that they face extinction due to habitat loss and poaching.

Sone hopes that by this book, rather than run the risk of having only photographic evidence of many incredible species “that once existed” in Cameroon, energy and resources should be harnessed to save these endangered animal and bird species from extinction so that people may be able to see them in their natural habitats, while conserving the wildlife for developmental purposes, ecotourism and research. For bird lovers, this is a great handbook, an asset for professionals and a genial companion for students as well as tourists.

First published in The Post print edition no 01455

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