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Wildlife inventory work at the heart of the conservation and development of the Lobeke National Park Cameroon segment of the TNS

Wildlife inventory work at the heart of the conservation and development of the Lobeke National Park Cameroon segment of the TNS

Last August, the Lobéké National Park Conservation Service launched periodic wildlife inventory work throughout the Cameroon segment of the TNS. This activity, which takes place every 04 years, aims to assess changing trends in wildlife potential and threats to the heritage values of the protected area and its surrounding area. This edition of this activity follows on from the 2014-2015 edition, which showed that elephant populations fell by half between 2000 and 2015.

The initiative was launched in July with the training and retraining of the staff hired, on data collection techniques, managerial work organization, security and first aid for teams in the field. In total, 30 ecoguards, 10 local assistants and 03 WWF officials were involved.

Long before the fieldwork, a team travelled through the 23 localities bordering the park in order not only to raise awareness among local authorities and communities of the circumstances in which this activity was carried out, but also to select and recruit guides and porters to accompany the various teams. Forty young people were selected, the priority being the recruitment of school and university holidaymakers to enable them to have the financial means to prepare for the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Ten data collection teams of eight people each were formed for four forest expeditions with an average duration of 14 planned days. It is a great activity that also requires the mobilization of significant material and logistical resources, mainly acquired under the FTNS and WWF Funds. Thus, the Conservation Service used rolling stock made up of motorized vehicles and river boats, the CONQUEST S8 for data collection, the GPS GARMIN 64ST, compasses and topographic maps for field navigation, the DELORME INREACH, communication equipment for transmitting messages and visualizing the GPS positions of field teams from the command centre in Mambélé.

This activity, which takes place every 04 years, aims to assess changing trends in wildlife potential and threats to the heritage values of the protected area and its surrounding area…

The first two expeditions carried out to date have made it possible to sweep the hard core of the park and the entire southern periphery of the protected area. Early trends indicate calm in poaching activity and high animal activity, particularly of elephants, ungulates and great apes within the park’s hard core, while there is a strong human presence with poaching and gold panning activities in the southern periphery covering the already very leached triangular Mambélé-Socambo-Moloundou strip. All the teams seized 01 AK 47 Kalashnikov type weapons, 03 magazine boxes, 207 Kalashnikov cartridges, 09 small and medium hunting weapons, 01 artisanal firearms; 597 steel cable traps were dismantled and 02 poachers were arrested and brought to justice for illegal possession of hunting weapons and ammunition.

And as can be noted, wildlife inventory activity is closely linked to anti-poaching activity because the trends it reveals in the mapping of wildlife abundance areas and human threats depend on future strategic directions for monitoring the park and its surrounding area. The receipt of a set of additional technical equipment and, above all, the acquisition of 02 new vehicles and the installation of radios in vehicles and bases will enable the Conservation Service to be more operational and proactive both in terms of anti-poaching and for the last two shipments of this wildlife inventory activity scheduled just after the presidential election of October 07,2018.

The reliability of the data is due to the dedicated ecoguard staff of Lobéké National Park and also to the technical assistants of WWF Jengi. This shows the satisfaction of the Curator and WWF Project Manager Lobéké.

By Achile Mengamenya Goué (PNL).

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