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Man and Nature Affirms 3-Year Partnership With ERuDeF 

By Azore Opio — The Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF’s French partner, Man and Nature, has confirmed a three-year funding partnership with the NGO.
Man and Nature, Executive Director, Olivier Behra, was in Cameroon, January 19-23, 2013 to monitor some of ERuDeF’s projects on the ground.

Behra proceeded to Magha, a village in the Lebialem highlands, Southwest Region, which is an integral part of Cameroon’s third highest peak, Mt. Bamboutos, where Man and Nature and ERuDeF are working on the valorization of a plant, the Echinops giganteus. The plant, which grows wild, has some fragrance and pharmaceutical potentials. The Man and Nature Executive Director was able to commune with over 50 people in the community who embraced the project and also expressed their desire to plant trees and restore their degraded landscape.

In Bechati, still in Lebialem, the team visited the Proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary where ERuDeF has been bio-monitoring the Great Apes. Bechati Village forms one of the forest blocks on the Cameroon-Nigeria border which is home to some 300 critically endangered Cross River gorillas and over 600 Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees. Government, with technical assistance of ERuDeF, is working towards awarding the area the status of a full protected area.

At Besali where ERuDeF has been providing alternative sources of livelihoods to those living adjacent to forests, the Manager of the Besali Oil Mill Project, Joseph Forbai told Behra that the presence of the oil mill for over one year now has led to increase in quantity and quality of oil produced. “Before, the process was labour-intensive but today the machine has the capacity of milling over 20 drums of nuts in two hours, a task which could take over a week to do manually.

The oil produced now is very good for soap making, frying of puff balls which the former oil would not do. With this improvement in quality, farmers have now gone beyond selling oil locally to selling in the neighbouring town of Dschang and this has led to an increase in income,” Forbai said. In an effort to increase the visibility of these projects and also increase funding for ERuDeF, Man and Nature in collaboration with a French audiovisual firm, Cinecure, shot a documentary based on the projects on the ground.

The documentary would be distributed internationally to help the world understand conservation issues in the Lebialem area and how ERuDeF has succeeded to conserve the last remaining great apes so far. At a press conference in Buea, the Executive Director of Man and Nature expressed satisfaction with the work ERuDeF is doing in conserving wildlife and protecting the environment.

“I would personally like to congratulate ERuDeF for the marvelous job, especially in the Tofala Hill area where I visited and saw the motivation of the local people in conservation. The actions of ERuDeF are already felt on the ground positively. I realised the organisation has been doing a lot of concrete projects on the ground like the setting up of the palm oil mill,” Behra said.
He intimated that the creation of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary will be a highpoint in the conservation process in that region in particular and Cameroon in general. 

“The presence of devoted conservation organisations like ERuDeF is what motivates Man and Nature to work with them in the protection of fragile species,” Behra added. ERuDeF CEO, Louis Nkembi,  promised Man and Nature that they would do everything possible to ensure that the goals of conservation are achieved in the near future. The two organisations entered into a partnership in 2010 with the vision of saving the last great apes, (Cross River gorilla) in the Lebialem Mone Landscape.

Three years on, Man and Nature has supported ERuDeF in her bio-monitoring activities in the Lebialem highlands and the Cameroon-Nigeria border which is home to the critically endangered Cross River gorilla and Nigeria chimpanzees. It has equally supported ERuDeF in the provision of alternative sources of livelihood to the local people such as oil mill, piglets and beehives.

First published in The Post print edition no 01405

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