Springing from Dja Faunal Reserve’s dense rainforest, Bouamir is one of the largest and most iconic outcrops in this 5,260 sq. kilometer protected area in southern Cameroon. It is also home to the landscape’s great apes, so when a baby chimpanzee was discovered alone in an abandoned house in the nearby village of Nemeyong she was named after the great rock Bouamir as a symbol of her resilience.
The story of mountain gorillas in recent history is one of violence and turmoil, but also hope and fragile recovery. Through poaching, civil war and genocide, large-scale habitat loss, disease, and hunting for the pet trade, the mountain gorilla hung on. Then, with the help of conservationists and enlightened governments, the gorillas did better than that. Where they numbered perhaps 600 at their lowest point in the 1980s, today they are tipping past 1,000. “Kwita Izina” — an annual celebration in which Rwanda’s newest baby gorillas are named — last year named 19 new babies and the year before that, 22.
A vital home for critically endangered great apes, the Dja Faunal Reserve benefits from a community-centered conservation strategy as development stems an upswing in human activity around the protected area and buffer zones.
Cameroon has often been called “Africa in miniature” for how much it mirrors the continent’s diversity. That’s especially true from an ecological standpoint. Like its mother continent, Cameroon boasts a coastline, mountains, savanna, desert and tropical rainforests. Though just larger than Sweden in terms of geographic size, this Central African nation hosts roughly 90% of all the ecosystem types found in Africa.
The animal world has been my passion since childhood. Conservation of nature, specifically the protection of species, has since become my career. For five years, I worked in the Lomako–Yokokala Faunal Reserve in western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).