IMG_4172

Cameroon disease-prone pits burying people, animals: Relufa starts advocating for their rehabilitation

Mining is the sole activity of the people of Batouri in the East Region of Cameroon. Still, this activity for the local population, picking up bits left by big companies, is rife with health, environmental, and socio-economic hazards.

Ateba Olinga, from the East Region, lost his brother to the mining pits in Batouri. As a driver, he got to a standing pool of water to clean up, and, not knowing the depth, he got in and never came out. He got buried inside. This is just one of the many stories of the devastating effects of open pits left by mining exploration in the East region.

“Where gold is extracted, mercury and other chemicals are used. In a tropical area with a high level of malaria, where there are hundreds of pits. There are also cases of pneumonia caused by dust, skin diseases, and sexual promiscuity, leading to sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies, and alcoholism”, Ateba Olinga stated.

With financing from the Commonwealth Foundation, the Network for the Fight Against Hunger, RELUFA, a member of ‘Publish What You Pay’, organized a public gathering to advocate for the restoration of pits in the East area. The aforementioned social, health, and environmental issues served as the impetus for this meeting.

A documentary as part of a study on the impact of artisanal small-scale unrehabilitated mining sites in the East region of Cameroon in line with the realities presented by participants was projected during the workshop, and recommendations were made for amelioration.

“The mining code is clear; the mining company is supposed to close the pits,” says Napoleon Jaff, RELUFA Coordinator. However, he laments that there are gaps, stating that there is a provision for a rehabilitation fund, where companies are supposed to put in money to make sure that after the exploitation, the pits are closed. This fund, too, has not been operational because the decree of application does not exist.

Jaff is hopeful that the new mining code adopted in parliament on November 22, revising the 2016 code, will usher in change. However, careful scrutiny of the new code is required to determine if the changes have looked into the issue of rehabilitating the abandoned pits.

Participants from the East region agreed that it would be a herculean task to close the pits because the population already knows that this activity is a way of life. People would no longer live like before, making money and spending easily. Parents remove their children from school.

Ateba Olinga recommends that the government close the pits but open artisanal mining sites for the population that cannot survive without mining.

Landslide at Mbankolo -Yaounde

Yaounde Landslide: Greenpeace Africa Urges Government To Improve Land Use Planning

By Leocadia Bongben

Greenpeace Africa has attributed the landslide that caused the deaths of about 30 people and left about 31 others injured to poor land use planning. Greenpeace Africa stressed that the incident could have been avoided given the recurrent landslides in Yaounde and in the country.

Stella Tchoukep, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, said, “The Mbankolo tragedy is not a new or isolated incident. Most frustratingly, it was predictable.

“Cameroon’s land-use planning process started in 2011 with the Orientation Law for Land Use Planning and Sustainable Development and the validation of the National Land Use Planning and Sustainable Development in 2016. Yet, no effective actions have been implemented thus far. Authorities must ensure that the land is suitable before settlement and restrict certain types of land use where geological and slope stability remain questionable.”

Photo Credit: National Climate Change Observatory

While expressing its deepest condolences to the families of the victims following the landslide in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, Greenpeace Africa urges the Cameroonian government to improve land-use planning for the safety of its citizens.

“Landslides cause considerable economic losses and are becoming more severe due to harmful emissions and obstructing climate action by the fossil fuel industry. It’s time these polluters pay for the loss and damage they caused,” Stella Tchoukep added

In October and November 2022, Yaounde recorded two other mortal landslides in Mimboman and Damas. A similar tragedy occurred in August 2021 in the town of Foumban, killing a father and his two children. Further landslides killed nearly 43 people in 2019 in the city of Bafoussam (West Cameroon).

Photo Credit: National Climate Change Observatory
Pangolin scales traffickers arrested

Pangolin: 91kg Scales Confiscated, Population Is Decimating

Suspected traffickers have been arrested in Ntui in the Center region, in possession of a total of 91 kg of pangolin scales from two separate operations.

The Mbam and Kim Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, in collaboration with the police, carried out a crackdown operation that led to the arrest of three traffickers.

Two separate arrests led to the confiscation of 91 kg of pangolin scales. Two of the traffickers were arrested with 70 kg of giant pangolin scales in a grain bag as they attempted to sell the scales. Shortly after their arrest, a third trafficker was arrested at the bus station with close to 21kg of pangolin scales concealed in a flour bag.

The traffickers were later presented to the state counsel in Ntui where the arrests took place. They were charged with illegal possession of protected wildlife species, and they shall stand trial in court. LAGA, a wildlife enforcement body technically assisted in the operation.

Sources close to the case say most of the scales were from giant pangolins and were collected from small poachers in Yoko and its environs.

Trafficking in pangolin scales is recurrent in this area of the country. Last month, two traffickers were arrested with 47 kg of pangolin scales in Nkoteng. The trafficking of mammals for their meat, skin, scales, and claws is decimating their population.


According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of
threatened species; the three pangolin species found in the country are all vulnerable. There is, therefore, a high need to curb the trade in pangolins in order to save the animals.

The 1994 wildlife law strictly prohibits the trade in pangolins and provides punishment for
anyone who breaks the law.

20230808_202908

Cameroon-Gabon Ivory Trafficking Swells- Threatening The Elephant Population


An international ivory trafficking ring has been dismantled in Gabon following the arrest of nine people in connection with a huge shipment of elephant tusks heading to Cameroon. The traffickers were arrested with 21 elephant tusks weighing 131kg in a crackdown on the major ivory trafficking ring using hidden compartments in vehicles. They were arrested last month by Gabonese wildlife officials and the police with the support of an EAGLE Network project known by its French acronym as AALF (Appui a l’application de la loi faunique), hosted by the Gabon-based conservation group Conservation Justice.


One of the suspected traffickers, a Gabonese of Cameroonian origin, was intercepted transporting the ivory in a pickup vehicle, sparking off a series of other arrests. He was found with 19 elephant tusks and 4 pieces of ivory weighing 120 kg, which he cleverly concealed in a fitted secret compartment under the tipper of the truck. Also hidden in the car was a sum of close to one million CFA francs. An expired residence permit of a well-known Cameroonian Ivory trafficker who was once arrested in Cameroon was also discovered. He was arrested in October 2020 with 626kg of ivory tusks by Customs officials in Ambam. He was later found guilty of illegal possession and sentenced to only four months in prison.

The traffickers arrested in Gabon are believed to be key players of a well-organized criminal ring operating between Cameroon and Gabon, illegally exporting several tons of ivory to Cameroon over many years. Over a nine-month period, over 25 million francs are suspected to have been traded in ivory transactions worth at least a ton of elephant tusks by the criminal group. A major trafficker who had been sentenced to prison in recent years was also arrested, and four others were arrested with two elephant tusks weighing 11kg. This network, which is estimated to have generated the killing of thousands of elephants, demonstrates that corruption is the main enabler of organized wildlife trafficking. Ofir Drori, the founder of Eco Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement (EAGLE), says, “The seizure of 21 tusks and 4 ivory pieces is a mere snapshot of the regular activities of this vast network operating for many years with representatives and stations spread all over Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon, trafficking ivory between Central and West Africa.


Speaking after the arrest operations, Ofir Drori, explained that “The illegal wildlife trade is routed through corruption. This is a good example of a very criminal network driving elephants to extinction. It has already been caught once and rewarded with a ridiculous sentence, only to continue their illegal activities undisturbed.”


Gabon seems to be setting the standards very high with stiff jail terms and prosecutions. According to Luc Mathot, Executive Director of Conservation Justice, which assisted wildlife officials involved in the arrests, “This type of operation is vital and should be repeated to dismantle the few large ivory trafficking networks that have managed to survive in Gabon, where the political will to protect the environment remains strong. The forest elephant population is estimated at 95,000 and appears to be stable, making it their last big refuge.


But the pressure remains, particularly from Cameroon.  Conservation Justice is part of the EAGLE Network, which brings together several conservation groups to assist governments across Africa in effective wildlife law enforcement.

Rice Value Chain Development

Cameroon Rice Into More Plates With The Rice Value Chain FCFA122 Billion Project

Rice, a staple cereal of Cameroonian households second only to corn, may eventually return in huge quantities and quality to the plates with the implementation of the Rice Value Chain Development Project (RVCDP).

Rice sold in Cameroon

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe, launched the ambitious FCFA 122 billion project to boost production and transform livelihoods on September 13.

The project piloted in the Northwest region will be implemented in the Northwest (Ndop Plain, Mbonso Plain, Bafut Tigoh Valley), West (Bagourain and Santchou), and Far North (Maga Basin) for the next five years.

In 2018, Cameroon imported 561,000 tons of rice, and in 2019, the importation jumped by 59.4 percent. The demand for locally produced rice keeps soaring and does not meet the local production, which is insufficient.

To reverse the import trend and meet local demand, the rice project envisages producing 750,000 tons of rice by 2030. To increase rice production from the present level of 4.5 tons per hectare to 6 tons per hectare, the project would have to strengthen links to markets and foster an enabling policy and institutional environment, among other things.

It is expected that 230,000 jobs will be created, especially for women and youth, and boost the production of smallholder farmers.

According to Khan Javed, Islamic Development Bank Regional Operations Team Leader, this is the biggest project in the rice sector in Cameroon, with the IsDB contributing 79 million euros.

“The project opens opportunities for the country and for other member countries to learn from the implementation and benefits for women and youth. If implemented well in five years, there would be more rice to eat,” the IsDB Regional Operations Team Leader stated.

Launch of the RVCDP in Yaounde-Hilton
Khan Javed speaks to the media

Stressing that rice is the second cereal after corn, which is consumed and contributes to food security, Gabriel Mbairobe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, thanked financial partners, IsDB, Kuwait Fund, OPEC Fund, Saudi Fund, and Abu Dhabi Fund for their contribution to Cameroon’s vision in the agriculture sector.

The Minister said the project would contribute not only to rice production but also to the mechanization of agriculture, as farmers would benefit from training, equipment, and social amenities to be provided in rural areas, such as health centers, schools, warehouses, and water points.

Minister Gabriel Mbairobe -MINADER

“The project is a nursery for the new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs whose projects would be funded. This is a holistic project that would contribute to increasing irrigated land for rice cultivation by about 7000 hectares and equip the farmers for the take-off of rice production, which would increase income and ameliorate livelihoods,” the Minister stated.

Stakeholders at the launch of the RVCDP
A Mandrill from Laga

A Chimp and Mandrill Rescued From Traffickers Find Temporary Refuge At The Mvog-Betsi Botanical Zoological Garden

A chimpanzee and mandrill rescued from traffickers have found temporary refuge at the Mvog-Besi Botanical Zoological Garden. This follows the arrest of three men for the illegal possession and trafficking of a chimpanzee and a mandrill in Ebolowa.

Officials of the South Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, in collaboration with the Judicial Police of the South Region, arrested the traffickers on August 18, 2023, during a crackdown operation.

The first trafficker was arrested with a baby chimp as he tried to sell her. The second trafficker was spotted on the street with a chained mandrill by the team that was returning to base. When he saw the law enforcement officers, he tried to run away but was immediately intercepted. They both were taken to the premises of the Judicial Police of the South Region. A third trafficker was later arrested for illegal possession of the mandrill.

The three suspected wildlife traffickers were presented before the state counsel in Ebolowa and two have been charged with the illegal possession and trafficking of protected wildlife species. They are presently behind bars awaiting trial. The animals were transported to the Mvog-betsi Botanical Zoological Garden for a temporary stay and care. LAGA, a Wildlife law enforcement body that assisted technically in the operation, told Cameroon Factfinder.

Chimpanzees and mandrills are primates with varying conservation statuses. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the chimpanzee is listed as an endangered species, with 170,000 to 300,000 estimated across its range. The mandrill is equally classified on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable. They are totally protected in the country under the 1994 Wildlife Law.

In view of the unabated traffic of wildlife, especially endangered species such as chimps and mandrills, there are fears of extinction in the near future.

Leoaprd atLobeke National park

How The Conservation Bonus Empowers Cameroon Communities, Contributes To Conservation

Zenger News

MAMBALE, Cameroon — A local community in Mambele, East Cameroon, now sells goats to generate revenue to pay school fees and hospital bills; thanks to the Conservation Bonus. The community for its part reports the presence of poachers and contributes to the conservation of the Lobeke National Park. 

“My community, Mambele requested goats, we have been rearing them and sharing them with members who multiply them and sell them to solve problems”, Albert Mbio stated. 

Similar stories abound in the 30 communities, like Yenga, Disassoue, Mboli, Koumela, and Salapoumbe around the Lobeke National Park, from 12km (39370.08 feet) to 26km (85301.84 feet) benefiting from the Conservation Bonus, Albert Mbio says. 

Lobeke National Park is part of a cross-border protected area, which also contains the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo and the Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve in the Central African Republic. The three protected areas make up the Sangha Tri-National, which was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list as a location of “outstanding universal value” in 2012. Rich in biodiversity, Lobeke National Park has a vibrant population of elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees, and gray parrots.

Leopard at the Lobeke National Park

The management of Lobeke National Park over the years has been confronted with acts of poaching with the local communities accused of aiding poachers and being involved in illegal activities inside the park.

In 2021, poachers killed eight elephants in the Lobeke National Park and the government responded by beefing up the security of the park, attaching the military to the rangers to increase surveillance. 

The World Wild Fund for Nature, WWF later hatched the idea of a Conservation Bonus, which is funded by the Fondation Tri- Tri-National de la Sangha—the funds of about FCFA 10 million ($16676.7) transit through WWF to Lobeke National Park. 

The management of the park approached the Natural Resources Management Committee, known by its French acronym COVAREF to share the initiative of getting the community involved in conservation. As the umbrella organization, COVAREF informed the communities and organized a meeting with the Lobeke Park management, Meka Makena Pepito, COVAREF President said. 

It started with sensitization on the need to conserve the park, the animals, and the forest for future generations. “We asked the park management what we the communities stand to gain from the conservation. In line with our needs, we were asked to submit projects that are funded with the conservation bonus,” Mbio told Zenger.

The conservation bonus was introduced not only to fight against poaching but also to “reward communities, recognizing their efforts in conservation”, Romanus Ikfuingei, Lobeke Park Manager told Zenger News. 

Barely two years of implementation, the conservation bonus contributes to the fight against poaching and the general conservation of the park. “Poaching has reduced since 2021. No acts of poaching have been recorded in the park in 2022 and 2023,” the Park Manager stated. 

“Communities now do not accept to host foreign hunters for fear that they might lose their conservation bonus especially if a class A (elephant, gorilla, chimpanzee) species is killed”, he stressed. However, he cautions that “Communities can eat animals like cutting grass, porcupine, blue duiker classified as class C animals and not endangered. Communities are encouraged to use traditional methods, and avoid wire snares and guns for hunting.”

COVAREF President narrated how in Koumela village known to host hunters from far and wide poachers entered the village, but the population chased them away. They told poachers they had nothing to gain from their activity and instead would risk the conservation Bonus if they stayed and word got to the park. The villagers said they have realized the importance of conserving their wildlife and the forest for future generations, and they are benefiting from the park. 

“The conservation bonus is appreciated by the community and since the creation of the park, this is the first time the communities get such funding. Initially, the population was told not to do certain things without any compensation. The initiative is very important and should continue. The community would continue denouncing poachers to benefit more from the conservation bonus,” Makena Pepito said. 

There are fears the conservation bonus maybe one day come to an end and the communities would revert to the old practices not beneficial for the animals and the forest. 

But Lobeke Park Manager is confident though voices circumstances which may warrant the suspension of the bonus. “Sustaining the conservation bonus is possible if the communities respect projects they initiated but if they don’t, such a community would not receive the bonus again. Foundation Tri-National de la Sangha would continue to provide the bonus as long as the communities implement their projects.”, Ikfuingei stated.  Some communities are thinking of setting up community ecotourism with the conservation bonus to attract tourists like in East Africa to generate more income, he added. 

Elephants at the Lobeke National Park

In 1999, anticipating the creation of a national park, the Cameroon government through the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife divided the forest into different parts; one for the park, the other for the population like a belt around the park for them to carry out their activities. A committee was created to manage the resources and that is what is known as COVAREF with 52 villages and 16 communities made of Bakas and Bantu. 

Without means the community could not manage the area, they rent out this part to Safaris, who pay money to the community.  The community gets money from a land lease tax, in relation to the number of hectares, and from 54 hectares set aside for the community, they get 5.4 million per year, and additional revenue from the hunting tax.

COVAREF has an anti-poaching team regularly in the bush to check what is happening and watch the movement of animals. Another team known as COVILLAGE remains in the village and gleens information to understand the realities and tell those in the field. 

The funds are used to dig boreholes to get portable water for the villages, help the sick and have no money, buy materials to encourage the Bakas to create farms, and fight poaching. 

A general assembly of the 52 villages decides which projects to carry out. All the villages come up with a project and together the priority projects are decided. 

Since 2021 the relationship between COVAREF and the park is cordial, and this is primarily through information sharing and participation conservation.

for the media

Suspected Trafficker In Custody For Illegal Possession Of 45kg Pangolin Scales

A former worker of a logging company has been remanded in custody for illegal possession of 45kg of Pangolin scales.

The arrest took place in Bertoua, in the East region on April 14 during a crackdown operation carried out by the Lom and Djerem Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife.

Eco-guards of the Deng Deng National Park alongside a LAGA wildlife law enforcement officer, were part of the operation.

According to an expert of a law enforcement body, The Last Great Ape, LAGA, 45kg of Pangolin scales can be equated to killing 68 Pangolins.  

With a bag filled with Pangolin scales strapped on the motorcycle, the man arrived at the transaction scene from Diang a small locality 40km from Bertoua.

Reports say the suspect is part of a pangolin trafficking network operating in Diang and in Bertoua.  The suspect bought pangolin scales which he stocked at home from traffickers in villagers around Diang including Kapan, Kariol, Mbang, and Molobo.

Pangolins also known as Scaly Anteaters are the only mammals with large protective keratin scales, similar in material to fingernails and toenails that covers their skin. The Pangolin is a solitary animal that mates and produces one to three offspring.

A nocturnal animal that feeds mostly on ants and termites which it captures using its long tongue, Pangolins live in hollow trees or burrows depending on the species, and are found mostly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Among the most trafficked mammals with high demands for their meat, skin, scales, and claws, the Pangolin population worldwide is fast diminishing. The Pangolin is protected under the 1994 Cameroon wildlife law.

mail

Environmentalists Slam Cameroon Forestry Ministry Of Legal Irregularities In CAMVERT Project

Green Development Advocates and Greenpeace Africa have slammed the Cameroon government for legal irregularities.

An analysis note published on October 26 highlights three irregularities concerning the attribution of five timber sales in favour of the CAMVERT project. This project is found within the national domain in Campo in the South Region.

This is a worrying development especially a few days before COP 27, in which Cameroon, as in previous years, intends to take part, the NGOs state.  

Three violations of the law by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Jules Doret Ndongo are: the sale of timber after the concession was already granted for the CAMVERT Project, logs outside the CAMVERT concessions verified and a concession of three years not renewable cautioned by a competent commission.

According to the forest defenders “the orders for the sale of timber were signed on February 16, 2022, whereas the provisional concession decree was signed on March 7, 2022 by the Head of State, giving Camvert the right to operate in the field. Indeed, according to the regulations, the opposite should have happened; in order to give a legal basis justifying the sales of logs at this period. The Minister has put the cart before the horse‘, says Aristide Chacgom, GDA coordinator. 

Green DevelopmentAdvocates and Greenpeace wonder how the extension was justified when the decree was not signed.

Article 2 common to the various decrees states that the sales of cuttings result from the implementation of the CAMVERT SA palm grove extension project. “At this stage of the project, how and why can the extension be justified when, at the time of the signing of the decrees, the provisional concession had not even been awarded? The absurdity continued with the allocation of a single sale of salvage logging on the area (39,923 ha) that the President of the Republic would later allocate as a provisional concession. Verification by means of the GPS coordinates provided in the decrees shows that the other four sales of timber are outside the area allocated for exploitation by CAMVERT,” adds Aristide Chacgom. 

The argument runs that f timber in the national domain are only attributed after three years after a competent commission has voiced its opinion.

In the forests of the national domain, sales of timber are attributed after the opinion of a competent commission for a period of three (3) years, which is not renewable.” Contrary to this provision of paragraph 2 of article 55 of law N°94/01 of 20 January 1994 on the regime of forests, fauna and fisheries, Minister Jules Doret NDONGO has provided in his decrees in articles 13 and 14 that sales of timber are attributed for a period of one year with a renewal procedure. “When analyzing the practice of this ministerial department, it is certain that such a modification opens the door to manipulation of both volumes and attributable areas,” concludes Aristide Chacgom. 

Greenpeace Forest Campaigner , Stella Tchoukep cautioned that, “It is necessary to stop deceiving Cameroonians, local communities and indigenous peoples whose lives depend on the forest; a few days before the climate conferences, we once again call on the Government of Cameroon to stop destroying forests in violation of the rights of local populations and its international commitments in relation to the fight against climate change.”

WhatsApp Image 2022-10-05 at 22.40.06

Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers Can Now Conduct Investigations, Qualify Wildlife Crimes

Within the context of wildlife conservation, wildlife law enforcement officers in the Northern region can now conduct investigations and qualify wildlife crimes among other procedures.

Before now, there was a huge gap in the qualification of offenses and follow-up to claim damages.

Agents experienced difficulties in applying the laws and regulations on the repression of wildlife crimes. Majority of forest and wildlife law enforcement officers did not master the qualification of offenses and not able to report wildlife offenses.

Without a mastery of the litigation procedures and follow-up, the courts remain approximate and sometimes non-existent and do not allow for a satisfactory visibility of MINFOF’s law enforcement activities.

North Cameroon is a major international attraction for wildlife conservation with several protected areas occupying nearly 44% (30,692 km2) of the region’s surface area. These are three National Parks: Benue National Park (PNB), Faro National Park (PNF) and Bouba Ndjidda National Park (PNBN), a Zoological Garden and 32 Zones of Hunting Interest (ZIC).

 Its rich ecology and network of protected areas are crucial for sport hunting and tourism in Cameroon. The important biodiversity provides habitat for several rare and/or endangered species (Lion, Derby Eland, Savanna Elephant, Savanna Buffalo, Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, etc.).

This network of protected areas is currently subject to poaching, trans-human headers, clandestine gold panning, slash and burn agriculture, huge deforestation and fishing using pesticides; activities that hinder the conservation of wildlife heritage of Northern Cameroon and greatly disturb the life of animal species.

The current context of globalization, characterized by the rapid spread of technological innovations including weapons of war, has led to profound changes in the nature and scale of poaching and wildlife crime. Globally, the trend is towards diversification and expansion of illegal activities beyond the boundaries of protected areas and countries. Advances in communication technology have opened up increasingly sophisticated avenues for crime, giving criminal organizations greater flexibility and dynamism.

Despite government and partners’ commitment, law enforcement actions against wildlife crime generally have little or no impact, leading to a situation of impunity for wildlife offenders and criminals.

Thanks to a capacity building workshop in Tcholliré, the staff of national parks: Bouba Ndjidda National Parks, the Benue National Park and the Mayo Rey Departmental Delegation can now carry out investigations, the qualification of offenses, refer cases to the judicial authorities, and the follow-up disputes before the courts.  Also, parks staff can now follow-up of the execution of legal decisions and recover payment for damages awarded to MINFOF.

Organized from 22 to 23 September 2022 at the Tcholliré Centre for the Promotion of Women and the Family, the workshop was attended by the DRFOF North, the President and the Prosecutor of Mayo Rey Courts (facilitators), representatives of the WCS/KFW BSB YAMOUSSA, WCS/EU ECONORCOM, DDFOF Mayo Rey, PNBN, PNB and DDFOF Mayo Rey staff.

Presentations, exchanges on institutional collaboration and the reinforcement of the chain of wildlife control and the interaction between MINJUSTICE of Tcholliré and the Judicial Police officers with special competence in its jurisdiction, punctuated the training.

The workshop was organized with the technical and financial support of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), through its BSB project in support of the Bouba Ndjidda National Park and its EcoNorCam project in support of the Benue National Park, financed respectively by KFW and the European Union.

Baka

Indigenous People Reliving Their Way Of Life: An EU Parliament Law Helpful?

The indigenous people of the Congo Basin may once again walk short distances in the near future smiling as they move with baskets on their backs into forest to harvest herbs, fruit and wood like in the good old days before big agro-businesses and artisanal logging destroyed their habitat.

Reliving like before for the Bakas, Bageli and others would mean implementing the law passed by the European Union Parliament on September 13.

The law, bans the import of deforestation products into the European Union. Initially on palm oil, soya, coffee and wood, the law has now been extended to include rubber.

Henceforth, Timber from deforestation henceforth would no longer be accepted in the EU.

According to Greenpeace Africa, this is a victory for “local communities and indigenous peoples of the Congo Basin who suffer massive deforestation by rubber industries.

The law is timely,  passed at a time when, “in Southern Cameroon, rubber company Sudcam has destroyed just over 11,000 ha of forest for its plantation and palm oil company Camvert continues to clear 40,000 ha of forest for its plantation, both done with total disregard for the disastrous impacts on the lives of local indigenous communities and biodiversity”, Greenpeace states.

In August Greenpeace organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the EU headquarters in Cameroon to demand that rubber be included in the list of commodities to be included in the into law.  

“The wellbeing of indigenous people is constantly violated by agrobusinesses for the benefit of cultivation,” said Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa.

The European Union will also consider  a law opposing the financial facilities that are granted to  agribusinesses by European banks,” he added.

“Greenpeace Africa calls world leaders, who are set to meet at major events to address climate change, to make decisions that prioritize the well-being of communities and the planet,” concluded Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja. 

Indigenous_women

Indigenous Communities Lend Voice To Web Influencers To Raise Awareness On Deforestation, Rights

It is against this backdrop that Greenpeace Africa, Green Development Advocates launched the campaign with influential web actors on August 17.

The web influencers would raise awareness on the fight against deforestation in Cameroon, as well as the protection of the rights of indigenous communities, the first victims of deforestation.

This comes at the heels of the celebration of the International Day of Indigenous People on the theme “The role of indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge”.

At the invitation of Greenpeace Africa, three Cameroonian web influencers will be for the next 30 days,  ambassadors of the defense  of indigenous communities’ rights, and the preservation of Cameroonian forests.  They are Betatinz, Grand Lawrenzo and Future Milliardaire , some well-known figures on the social media landscape in Cameroon, notably Facebook, TikTok and Instagram.

“The collaboration aims to  amplify the voices of indigenous forest communities, whose rights are constantly violated by activities with high pressure on the forests, such as agro-industrial concessions, like the one awarded Camvert,” says Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest  Campaign Manager at Greenpeace Africa. 

Indeed, for nearly two years, Greenpeace Africa and GDA have been campaigning against Camvert, which has been granted a provisional concession of approximately 40,000 hectares, extendable to 60,000 hectares, to plant oil palm. And on the ground, the effects continue to torment the local indigenous communities, especially women, who are finding it increasingly difficult to contribute to the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge due to the gradual and alarming disappearance of the forest.

This is exactly what Marie Thérèse Anzouer, an indigenous Bagyeli woman, deplores when she says: ” Nice words have not yet succeeded in transforming our daily lives. The 2022 edition of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People focused on the crucial role that we women play in transmitting traditional values, but on the ground, everything that is the essence of these traditional values, namely the forest, is disappearing day by day.” 

To amplify their voice and their cry of alarm in the days to come, these influencers will raise awareness among their followers about environmental protection and the defence of the rights of indigenous communities. Beta Tinz, a web influencer taking part in the campaign, said, “We are all concerned about environmental issues. I am a woman and I know how difficult the economic situation is for me as a wife and mother at home. I can’t imagine the ordeal that indigenous women go through because of the cutting of trees in the forest, their main source of income. This is why I agreed to join this noble cause. ” 

WhatsApp Image 2021-12-17 at 5.49.44 PM

Former African Heads of State Commit To Ensure Wildlife, Wild Lands Thrive

Wildlife conservation may witness better days as two former African Heads of State have committed themselves to ensure that wildlife and wild lands thrive in Africa.

H.E Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger and H.E Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia have reaffirmed their support for The African Wildlife Foundation, AWF, as they join the Global Board of Trustees.

These great African leaders are an asset to the global board of trustees with the diverse and unique African leadership perspectives as AWF implements its ambitious 10-year strategy.

The two eminent leaders join the wide array of international experts and thought leaders on the AWF board, including other former African heads of state: H. E. Festus Mogae of Botswana, the late H. E. Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, and the late H.E. Ketumile Masire of Botswana.

H.E Issoufou Mahamadou and H.E Hailemariam Desalegn aim to work alongside their peers to ensure that wildlife and wild lands thrive in a modern Africa and to support AWF’s firm recognition of the central role that conservation plays in Africa’s aspirations, especially in building back better from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The new board trustees believe that the recovery path chosen by African leaders must be underpinned by a commitment to securing the continent’s natural infrastructure to provide a strong base for resilient and prosperous nations.

“As an African organization in these uncertain times, we recognize the important role that the African voice plays in ensuring that the continent’s development is hinged on its people and its natural asset base.  At AWF, we believe that Africa right now stands at a crossroad; that the decisions that leaders in Africa take now will have enduring impacts on people.

We trust that the elevated status of biodiversity will influence the opportunities available to Africans today and into the future. It is in this respect that we sought the support of African leaders in championing a new narrative for conservation in Africa”, AWF CEO, Kaddu Sebunya stressed.

The two former heads of state bring outstanding experience from their previous leadership roles and current capacities as chairpersons of their foundations. In Niger, H.E. Issoufou has already recorded substantial progress in combating the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss in the Sahel region, both during his presidency from 2011-2021 and through The Issoufou Mohamadou Foundation.

His support for the Great Green Wall initiative and the successful launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) are some of the key distinctions that led to him receiving the 2020 Mo Ibrahim African Leadership Award

The Great Green Wall is positioned to rebuild a green belt of forest across the Saharan desert range states, with the idea being to hold back the growing Sahara desert and create a lush ecosystem. AWF believes that Africa needs more bold initiatives like this to give us a fair chance to reverse biodiversity loss. 

In a statement H.E. Issoufou reiterated, “I am very excited to be joining the AWF board to further ensure that Africa shapes its own conservation and climate agenda that will secure prosperity for African nations and communities. Planning and managing resource use in an integrated way to deliver on people’s needs, development aspirations, and conservation imperatives requires a landscape approach. We see the power of this landscape approach in our work to revive the Great Green Wall, which is transforming lives across the Sahel as well as restoring ecosystems. Working alongside the African Wildlife Foundation, we will be able to achieve enormous milestones that will shape the future of Africa.”

Issoufou Mahamadou, Former Niger President

Similarly, in Ethiopia, H.E. Hailemariam, who served as Prime Minister from 2012-2018, is supporting selected national parks in the country’s most remote landscapes. Through the Hailemariam and Roman Foundation, he is transforming the tourism and conservation sector by creating alternative livelihoods for the surrounding communities.

In adherence to his guiding principles of putting the community at the center, creating sustainable and scalable models, catalyzing development interventions, and enhancing partnerships, H.E. Hailemariam’s never-ending passion for conservation success, pan-Africanism, and sustainable development has set him above the curve amongst his peers.

In his statement, H.E. Hailemariam remarked, “I am thrilled to become a member of the African conservation movement through the African Wildlife Foundation. Having led an African country for 6 years, I understand the key issues that we face as a continent and have consistently stated in multiple global forums that what needs to change is our behavior and our mindset.

We live at a time where there are numerous discussions around green growth investments and how they are shaping global negotiations to mobilize private finance through nature-based solutions linked to biodiversity and climate action. Understanding the intricacies of these global policies and the key role Africa plays is vital in ensuring that we do not set ourselves up for failure. Through AWF, I believe, we will be able to achieve this and so much more.”

In the context of COVID-19 and the growing impact of climate change, African countries will therefore need to build back better with a focus on diversified and resilient economies. 

It is because of this shift, and the influence held by H.E. Issoufou, H.E. Hailemariam, and other African leaders, that AWF is convinced that we are set on the right course to shape Africa’s economic development as a model for the rest of the world where conservation is at the center of development.

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, AWL articulates a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.

Camvert Project

Greenpeace Africa Decries Worrying Deforestation In Cameroon Ahead Of Cop 26

“A few weeks before the COP 26, one of the strong results that Cameroon could present to the world would surely not be this very worrying rate of deforestation, but that it has decided, for example, to cancel the project of the company Camvert, which wants to destroy 60,000 hectares of forest to plant oil palm in the districts of Campo and Niete (South Cameroon)”Greenpeace Africa states.

Greenpeace, an international NGO committed to environmental protection has decried the worrying deforestation in Cameroon, urging government to cancel the Camvert project ahead of COP 26.

The Camvert project is said to destroy 60,000 hectares of forest to plant oil palm in the districts of Campo and Niete (South Cameroon).

The NGO indicates that projects such as those of Camvert and Sudcam or even industrial timber exploitation, currently underway in the South Cameroon region, are sufficient proof that in Cameroon, actions do not follow the fine promises of leaders.

“A situation that remains quite worrying when we know that Cameroon, like other African states, is very vulnerable to climate change. It should also be stressed that every time a hectare of forest is razed, it is the local communities that pay a heavy price because their survival is closely linked to the protection of these forests”, Greenpeace Africa stresses.

According to Greenpeace Africa, a report by the National Observatory of Climate Change (ONACC) shows that between 2000 and 2017, Cameroon lost 1.5 million hectares of its forest.

“This is an alarming enough figure, but it does not alter the rate of deforestation in the country”, Greenpeace regrets.

Another report made public at the end of October by the National Observatory of Climate Change, indicated that 17 years, Cameroon has lost 1.5 million hectares of its forest cover.

Before the report of the ONACC, the European Union that pointed out that every year, Cameroon loses an area of forest equal to three times the surface of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

Also, the World Resources Institute in a publication earlier this year ranked Cameroon in 2020 in the top 10 countries in the world with the greatest loss of primary forests, that is to say more than 100,000 hectares of primary forests destroyed in that year alone.

Greenpeace laments that leaders, including the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (Minepded), as well as the Minister of Wildlife and Flora (Minfof) continue to be optimistic about Cameroon’s ability to effectively meet its international commitments.

For Ranece Jovial Ndjeudja, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, “Fine speeches will not save the forest. Concrete actions are needed. The Cameroonian state must be more serious in its commitments. Cameroon’s policy on forest management is paradoxical. On the discursive level, we have leaders who present themselves as the best defenders of the environment but the reality on the ground is quite different.”

The ministries concerned have not reacted to the release by Greenpeace.

WhatsApp Image 2021-09-29 at 9.22.09 AM

“Becoming First Woman Sweet Potato Bread Baker Changed My Life”-Odette Fin

A safe haven for women to bond, look out for each other and become financially independent in the crisis ridden Northwest village-Fungom Farms

Odette Fin, 32 years, mother of four, is proud to have been trained to be the first woman sweet potato bread baker in Menchum Division, Northwest Cameroon.

Like most women in the area, Fin made a living from farming but now she sees her life differently.

Her story to becoming the first woman sweet potato baker stated in 2019 when the Fungom Farms set its base in her village.

First, with other women, she farmed potatoes, harvested, cleaned and transformed to flour, stocked it in bags.

Then, an opportunity came knocking to train in baking.  Fin and two other women enrolled but they preferred farming, so she was the only person completed the training.

Fungom Farms, a family business that owns the IR company- a sustainable development cooperative, working together to ensure food security in the village, brought in a baker who trained Fin.

Today she is the pride of the community as the first female sweet potato baker.

“I learnt baking for three months and now I am happy with my new life”, Fin said.

“My day starts with preparing my kids for school. When they are gone, i also head to the bakery.  I sweep and keep the environment clean, clean the baking kit, measure and weigh the quantity of sweet potato flour that I mix with wheat flour”, she recounts.

On a typical business day, Fin can bake about 10,000 loaves ranging from FCFA 100, 250, and 500.

“The population are marveled because they did not know bread could be made from sweet potatoes.  They love the bread”, she said.

As a baker, Fin says her life has changed, that she is living a good life compared to when she was farming.

“I pay school fees and buy books for my kids, I am grateful to Fungom Farms for investing in me, giving the new skill.

If there are any women interested, I advise them to learn baking.

The company which started in 2019, baking normal bread turned to sweet potato bread thanks to the research carried out by the manager.

Besides sweet potato bread, Cameroonian bakers are trying their skills in baking bread from cassava, cocoyam, plantain and yam to seduce customers.

In a way, they transform farm produce, for the population to eat organic food and reduce post-harvest losses.

The Fungom Farms , produce about 25 tons of potatoes every year and buy more from the villagers, one of the farm hands, Tchinda stated.

Fungom Farms based in Mekaf village, covering 25 villages does not only farm potatoes, but also vegetables, maize, groundnuts, soya bean, palms, cassava.

The farm sustains 370 families, 80 contributors, supplies five villages, and many customers.

With the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the idea of a cooperative has been a survival strategy as people could not go to their farms individually.

“Working as a group, a cooperative has built a bond among the members”, the Manager, Henry Bung stated.

Though women work as a cooperative where they are paid, they also own individual sweet potato farms, Bung added.