Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.
Wildlife knows no boundaries. So AWF has defined areas across the continent that are critical to conservation. These Priority Landscapes can cover public and private lands alike and often cross borders.
526,000 hectares (2,031 sq. mi.)
Dja Faunal Reserve
The Dja Landscape is located in southeastern Cameroon. At its core lies the Dja Faunal Reserve, which is both a World Heritage Site and an Important Bird Area. It contains over 1,500 known plant species and nearly 350 resident bird species. Additionally, Dja has over 100 types of mammals, including the endangered chimpanzee, the critically endangered western lowland gorilla, the vulnerable giant pangolin and the endangered forest elephant. The region is also home to the Baka Pygmies, who are considered its original inhabitants, and who rely on the forest and traditional hunting and gathering for their survival.
Many threats linger along the edges of the Dja Faunal Reserve. Concessions have brought mining and logging operations to Dja’s doorstep, while poor demarcation of boundaries has led to them actually entering the Reserve in some places.
Commercial agriculture like the cultivation of rubber, cocoa and palm oil is also present around Dja. As these activities continue to expand, they put greater and greater pressure on the Dja Faunal Reserve—leading to deforestation and habitat fragmentation.
As the extraction and agricultural industries grow, they also bring about the construction of new infrastructure, like roads. What’s more, they’re attracting more and more people in search of employment. For Dja, this has proven a dangerous combination.
The area’s commercial bushmeat trade, which was already on the rise, has only been further exacerbated to meet the demand of these growing workforces. The new road networks have made poaching easier, not only posing a threat to the species hunted for their meat, but also to the area’s endangered forest elephants. With poaching across the continent at an all-time high, Dja’s elephant population is now more vulnerable than ever.
The Dja Services de Conservation (SdC), which manages the Dja Faunal Reserve, has not received adequate resources or capacity building to enable proper management of the reserve. A lack of fundamental equipment, transportation, communication systems and even power has greatly hobbled its ability to operate.
The combination of threats to the reserve, and SdC’s inability to adequately combat them have caused UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to warn that Dja Faunal Reserve could be placed on the World Heritage Sites in Danger list in 2016, unless appropriate conservation action is taken immediately.
Our solutions to safeguarding this World Heritage Site:
Making sure the extraction and agricultural industries around Cameroon’s Dja Faunal Reserve operate in ways that don’t damage the reserve is essential. AWF is therefore working to assess the upcoming large-scale development of these entities, and to strategize ways to work with stakeholders in the area to make sure construction still benefits people without hurting wildlife.
In order to fully understand the current state of the Dja Faunal Reserve, AWF will complete an ecological baseline survey, which will be followed by annual updates on the state of the reserve. These updates will also be shared with UNESCO.
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