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WWF Japan Donates Camping Materials To Forest Rangers 

By Fidelis Pegue Manga — Some 41 forest rangers working for Lobeke National Park in Southeast Cameroon recently received camping materials donated by the World Wide Fun for Nature, WWF Japan. The materials comprised 45 backpacks, individual tents, mattresses, sleeping bags and raincoats and are aimed at strengthening in-forest anti-poaching operations and other surveillance activities in and around the park.

According to Naobi Okayasu, Chief Coordinator of Network Priority places/species team, of WWF Japan, the gifts were provided by a company called MontBell Group in Japan. “We are responding to request made during discussions we had with some forest rangers late last year,” Naobi said.  “I spoke with one of the newly recruited female rangers who told me if they had tents, backpacks and other basic camping materials they could do their work even better in the forest. So I thought it important to provide these materials to them,” said Naobi.

She said although forest rangers in Lobeke work under very hard conditions, “they remain very cheerful. They know the park and the animals very well,” said Naobi. Lobeke is part of the Sangha Tri-National, TNS, landscape, that also comprises protected areas in Congo-Nouabale Ndoki and Central African Republic- Dzangha Ndoki. The TNS is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Forest rangers working in the Lobeke lack basic equipment to carry out their duties.

In September 2011, poachers tortured and murdered a ranger in the peripheral zone of the park. Lobeke rangers, just like colleagues in other part of Cameroon, are not armed. Ranger Ange Valery Ngundum Kouamanda has worked for Lobeke National Park since 2006. He says they received their first camping materials in 2008, comprising backpacks, boots and uniforms which are now all worn out.

“These gifts come in time to solve one of our difficulties, which is lack of field camping materials,” said Kouamanda. But rangers still need equipment such as compass, walkie-talkie and other communication materials including teargas canisters. “These materials will boost our self-confidence. We shall endeavour to deliver even better results,” he said. Lobeke is one of the protected areas WWF Japan supports in the Green Heart of Africa. According to Naobi, WWF Japan supports four key objectives namely; anti-poaching, biodiversity monitoring, eco-tourism support through gorilla habituation and sustainable community development.

First published in The Post print edition no 01445

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