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Villages Receive Second Mt. Cameroon National Park Boundary Payments 

By Francis Tim Mbom —  Seven villages in the West Coast and Limbe II Subdivisions, July 6, received the balance payments for clearing and re-opening a 44-km line demarcating the Mount Cameroon National Park, MCNP, from the villages. The payment took place at the Fire Burn Club at Idenau, West Coast Subdivision.

The seven villages: Batoke, Etome, Lower Boando, Bakingili, Njongi, Bibunde and Sanje, received a total sum of FCFA 3,080,000 for reopening the boundary line which Mor Achangkap Bakia, GIS Officer for the Southwest Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, said took some two weeks to be done. The first part of payment was done on December 17, 2010, when the above villages, plus some two others, received FCFA 3,080,000. The Mount Cameroon region is said to be extremely rich in many plant and animal species such as the elephant, chimpanzee and a variety of monkeys.

To conserve and protect the dwindling populations of these species and make the resources be of benefit to both the Government and all the villages that flank the Mount Cameroon region, the Government, in 2009, created the Mount Cameroon National Park reserve. Following the creation, the Government in 2010, through the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF Coastal Forest Programme, decided to carve out a demarcation between the MCNP area and the surrounding villages and prevent any further encroachment either through farming or hunting.

Bakia disclosed that during the second boundary re-opening work, the Chiefs of these villages had to avail five workers each from their Village Forest Management Committees. In a bid to facilitate the work, an advance payment had to be made in order for them to buy equipment. The Interim Conservator of the MCNP, Hans Ettagbor, told the recipient villages, July 6, that what they were receiving was just the beginning of expected bigger benefits that the villages shall ultimately get in their collaboration with the Government in the successful management of the Park.

The WWF Site Manger for the Park, Manasseh Eno Nku, who had helped in coordinating the work, hailed the work done by the village of Batoke during the re-opening exercise. Unlike the first exercise which involved only clearing, painting of boundary trees and the planting of others, this year’s exercise was re-enforced with the planting of concrete boundary pillars, sign posts and Park Marks along the demarcation stretch. Meantime, Bakia disclosed that: “Between now and December, we will have to continue with the other clusters. The rains now are intense but when they subside, we shall continue.”

On behalf of WWF-CFP, the Programme Manager, Dr Phillip Forboseh, urged the villages to continue in their efforts at helping to mange the Park. He said that, besides what they were receiving, they were still entitled to receive what he called conservation credit. This, he said, shall add to the global benefits to the villages around the mountain for their contribution in conserving the natural resources of the Park.

Chief Otto Molungu of Batoke expressed happiness with the payments, saying this second payments further gives them hope and trust in the whole project of making Mt Cameroon a National Park for the benefit of all. From the entire package of the FCFA 3,080,000, the Chiefs of the villages were entitled to FCFA 440,000. This amount was destined to them for coordinating the re-opening exercise. “The first money in 2010 helped me to buy some plastic chairs for my Traditional Council,” Chief Andreas Ndumbe of Etome Village said.

Some of the villagers who did the work complained that the time between December 2010 when they did the first opening and June, 2013, when the second was done, was too long.
“We wish that the boundaries can be cleared or re-opened once or twice yearly. We faced a lot of difficulty during the exercise because some of the paths had become over grown.”

The Site Manager, Eno Nku, in response, said they were working towards that. But he was worried that some of the villagers, after the first opening, had tried to tamper with some of the boundary trees. “Some villagers tried to scrap off the paint from some of the boundary trees,” he said. The DO of Idenau, Basile Ekomba, warned the villagers to desist from farming close to the boundary.

“The closer you go to the boundary with your farming, the more you will be tempted to cross into the Park. So, this should be avoided,” he advised. He also called on all those who own guns to come up and register them because the law forbids anyone from owning an unregistered gun. The payment exercise was overseen by the Regional Chief of Service in Charge of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Joseph Nono, who represented the Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Samuel Ebai.

First published in The Post print edition no 01445


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