This week, the Cameroon Youth Biodiversity Network officially kickstarted its preliminary discussions on the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework and the country's second National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan. The group of 20 young influencers from various sectors in Cameroon were set to meet in March, but with the novel pandemic, the team had to reschedule. This extra time has enabled them to review the 10-year Biodiversity Implementation Strategy and evaluate if the document has factored in sustainable practices that will curb future pandemics.
On a Saturday morning in early May, a group of women gathered in an open field in Kabilone II village adjacent to the Dja Faunal Reserve in south-eastern Cameroon. They patiently waited their turn as a government representative from the reserve’s Conservation Service handed over face masks and bars of soap for the women to distribute and use within their communities.
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You finish your last meeting in a nearby town at 4 p.m. You are tired and ready to head home. You have made this trip many times before and know it takes exactly three hours. After all, yours is usually the only car on the road, so traffic jams are not a consideration.
You get in beside your driver, crank up the music, and set off. Your visitors that evening are also en route, but they are much closer to your house than you. They will arrive before you but that does not worry you — being old friends and colleagues, there will be lots of time to catch up.
Rich biodiversity earned it the nickname “Africa in miniature.”
Cameroon has often been called “Africa in miniature” for how much it mirrors the continent’s diversity. Like the continent it calls home, Cameroon boasts a coastline, mountains, savanna, desert, and tropical rainforests.
Florence Louma is a happy woman. During the last cocoa harvest in early 2019, she made a profit of over USD $1,700, making her the top-earning female cocoa farmer in Kagnnole village, Somalomo, at the border of Dja Faunal Reserve in eastern Cameroon.
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.
For generations, hunter-gatherers have used the trees and plants in Cameroon’s dense tropical forests to sustain their community. Like many indigenous people around the world, their relationship with these biodiversity-rich forests is not exploitative. In the villages neighboring the Dja Biosphere Reserve in south-eastern Cameroon, women are using their ancient botanical knowledge to build sustainable enterprises from non-timber forest products.
“Ngarkuwa.” This was the title bestowed on Manfred Aimé Epanda by Cameroon’s Tchamba chiefdom. Epanda, African Wildlife Foundation’s Cameroon country coordinator, has devoted the last two decades of his career to community conservation in his native Cameroon.