By Walter Wilson Nana

The World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF Cameroon Country Programme has indicated that the proposed Ebo National Park will soon become a reality. This is contained in a released issued by the WWF Cameroon Country Programme Office in Yaounde.

Game guards protecting cameronian forests

The release notes that, after two years of on-the-ground studies, research and wide consultation with local communities as well as administrative authorities, WWF through its Coastal Forests Programme, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and the Dutch Government are taking one more important step towards having the biodiversity rich Ebo Forest designated as one of the country’s key National Parks.

To fortify their commitment, a low altitude fly-over to fully appreciate the potentials of the Ebo forest area in Cameroon has been planned for February 2, 2010. WWF technicians, who have over the years coordinated efforts to prepare Ebo for a National Park designation, shall accompany government officials in charge of environment and conservation issues as well as a representative of the Dutch Government in Cameroon to catch a life-time glimpse of the biodiversity rich forests.

"Local community leaders and the media will be key components of the fly-over," the release states. According to Dr Atanga Ekobo, Coordinator of WWF Coastal Forests Programme; "the aim of this mission is for the key stakeholders to have a comprehensive view of the proposed park, as well as further raise awareness about the conservation importance of this Congo basin biodiversity hot spot."

Apart from forest elephants, a small but important gorilla population, and a healthy chimpanzee community, there are nine other diurnal primate species present in the proposed Ebo National Park, including important populations of species in serious decline elsewhere, such as drills and Preuss’ red colobus.

From this background, WWF Cameroon Country Office posits that since the forest is facing serious threats such as poaching and illegal logging, there is need for it to be safeguarded. Ground work to enable the designation of the Ebo forest as a protected area has been coordinated by WWF Cameroon Country Programme Office, through WWF Coastal Forests (SAWA) Programme, Limbe, for the past two years with funding from WWF Netherlands.

The Ebo landscape cuts across two administrative divisions; Sanaga Maritime and the Nkam divisions in the Littoral Region. The proposed Ebo National Park is one of the most important remaining tracts of closed-canopy forest in the Littoral region. It covers a surface area 111, 2880 hectares of lowland and montane forests and contains one of the most complete populations of a wide variety of forest mammals in Cameroon.