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WWF Pays FCFA 3.08 Million To Nine Villages 

By Francis Tim Mbom

Inhabitants of some nine villages in the West Coast and Limbe II Sub Divisions, recently received FCFA 3.08 million from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, WWF. Officials of, WWF Sawa Programme, proceeded, December 17, paid out a total sum of FCFA 3,080,000 to the villages of Ngeme, Batoke, Mukundange, Etome, Lower Boando, Bakingili, Isongo, Bibunde, Sanje and Njonji.

One of the Chiefs (standing) about to sign his money

While some four villages each received FCFA 385,000, the other five were paid FCFA 308,000 each. The payment ceremony was carried out at the Fire Burn Club at Idenau with the villages represented by their chiefs and overseen by the DO of the West Coast Sub Division, Emmanuel Ndengue Meteh.

The villages were paid for having completed the work of clearing and opening up the demarcation line that is currently being drawn by WWF as a technical partner and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. The MCNP Site Manager, Manasseh Eno Nku, said demarcation was aimed at mapping out the boundaries of the Mount Cameroon Nation Park so that the surrounding villages can know their farming limits and also stop any encroachment into the Park area.

DO Meteh reminded the chiefs and all the villagers that the creation of the park was something that was going to benefit all of them, both present and future generations to come. "We should not put our interest only on the money but on the general good that this project shall bring to all of us," Meteh said.  Meteh went on to caution the chiefs to ensure that the money is not put for their personal use but for the benefits of their communities.

The Regional Chief of Forestry for the Southwest, Jean Pierre Kebou, advised the chiefs to emulate what the villages of the Bomboko cluster did. "The villagers of the Bomana village, Mbonge Sub Division, used their own money to renovate their community hall. The villages should use their money for development," Kebou said. Chief Samuel Sako Balondjo of Bibunde, who welcomed the officials said, since the money was not that much, he was going to use that meant for his village to, at least, put up the foundation of their own community hall.

While welcoming the audience in his capacity as the host Chief, HRH Sako thanked the MCNP, WWF and government officials for the partnership. He, nevertheless, expressed the wish that their children be considered for full employment in the Park project. Kebou, in answer, advised the chiefs to ensure that their children get trained in the areas of forestry management; that villagers respect the carved out boundaries and fully play their role in preserving the Park.

Problems Encountered

A report of how the demarcation went on indicates that at the point of the Bakingili village, the demarcation team led by Besong Tanyi found out that some new farms had just been opened some 800 meters deep inside the MCNP area. The team also found huts of poachers still present inside the MCNP zone. Besides, they discovered trails of chimpanzees and drills (‘Sombos’) within the park area as well as water points where elephants do come usually for their sip.

Kebou had noted that the MCNP was very rich in elephants, drills, monkeys, chimpanzees, some very rear species of birds and other mammals. It is just one of the reasons the government, WWF and other partners are fighting to conserve the forest here as a park. The practice of poaching by local hunters is pretty rife in this forest area.

At the close of the payment exercise, the DO thanked WWF officials and their international partners, the chiefs and all involved in the project. He, nevertheless, urged WWF authorities to endeavour to make sure all documents destined to the villagers must, of necessity, be in English and French. This, he said, was to ease understanding by the chiefs and the locals who are predominantly English-speaking.

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