Why Cameroon should declare Tchabal Mbabo a National Park

The biodiversity of Tchabal Mbabo, a montane reserve located in the Adamawa Region of Cameroon and covering a surface area of 106,762 ha, represents a globally recognized key biodiversity area with several endemic and threatened species, unique vegetation types and huge ecotourism potential.

A rapid survey of mammals, birds and amphibians, conducted by experts from the Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS), revealed Tchabal Mbabo’s potentials as key biodiversity area worthy to be declared a national park.

The survey team directly sighted important mammal species including; Mona Monkeys, Wild Forest Hog and Blue Duiker, Leopard and Hyena, identified through footprints.

Formal and informal one-on-one interviews conducted with local people during the survey, confirmed the sighting of six vulnerable or endangered species (African Golden Cat, Giant Derby, Spotted Hyena, Mountain Reedbuck) and the African spotted wild dog, declared locally extinct by the IUCN.

Besides its rich mammal population, Tchabal Mbabo also harbours amphibians, reptiles and bird species. The endangered Central Night Frog, known to be of medicinal importance and widely used by local herdsmen to cure some livestock diseases, the Nganha Night Frog, restricted to the Adamawa plateau and the rocket frog and clawed frog were recorded during the survey.

The inventories also revealed a rich population of avifauna. Some 106 bird species were recorded with six threatened species including the Africa white-backed vulture, White-headed vulture Bannerman’s weaver, Montane Greenbul, Green Turaco, Crossley`s ground thrush and Bangwa forest warbler, found.

“Given the species richness and conservation importance, Tchabal Mbabo should be given the highest protected area status of a National Park,” says Dr. Leonard Usongo, an experienced conservationist and biologist. Tchabal Mbabo is contiguous with the Gashaka Gumti National Park in Nigeria. “The governments of Cameroon and Nigeria should seek to create a transboundary protected area comprising Tchabal Mbabo and Gashaka Gumti,” Dr Usongo adds.

Engage the people

As the quest for a creation of a national park in Tchabal Mbabo gathers steam, bold steps must be taken to put people at the centre of action. Tchabal Mbabo is situated in Galim-Tignere and Mayo Baleo Sub-Divisions of the Faro and Deo Division, which is part of the Mayo-Banyo Division of Adamawa Region of Cameroon.

With a relatively young population beset by low literacy rate and heightened unemployment, this predominantly cattle rearing people compete for space for pasture. The survey report spells out overgrazing, conversion of land for agriculture, burning of gallery forest to enrich soil fertility, and poaching mostly carried out by migrant poachers from Nigeria as threats to the rich biodiversity of Tchabal Mbabo. These challenges must be addressed in a mutually inclusive approach that will safeguard the needs of local people while ensuring protection for biodiversity.