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Cameroon and Nigeria Cross-border Park

BirdLife works with governments to create giant protected area straddling two nations…

BirdLife International, in partnership with the Governments of Cameroon and Nigeria, has embarked on an ambitious project to protect the invaluable mosaic of biodiversity spanning the two West African countries` border, creating a giant trans-boundary protected area. The project will be formally announced at the launch at the IUCN Vth World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa.

The mountain forests, savannah and grasslands of the Gashaka Gumti National Park in Nigeria and Tchabal-Mbabo in Cameroon lie within the Cameroon Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA), and both have been classified by BirdLife as Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These areas form a single ecosystem, artificially divided by the international boundary.The area hosts 28 bird species restricted to the afro-montane ecosystem, including 13 species only found in this mountain chain. Key species of global conservation concern found on both sides of the border include Cameroon Greenbul Andropadus montanus, Bangwa Forest Warbler Bradypterus bangwaensis, Crossley`s Ground-thrush Zoothera crossleyi, and the Vulnerable Bannerman`s Weaver Ploceus bannermani. Both Gashaka Gumti and Tchabal-Mbabo are rich in large mammal species, including an important population of a distinct subspecies of Endangered Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes vellerosus, found only in eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon and the Endangered Africa Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus.Gashaka Gumti is Nigeria`s largest National Park, covering 6,670 sq. km. Although fully protected as a national park since 1991, the park suffers encroachment by cattle grazers and farmers. The far smaller Tchabal-Mbabo, which covers around 30,000 hectares, has no formal protection. Commercial bushmeat hunting is increasing on both sides of the border, and carnivores like lion and hyena are killed by cattle owners. Both the Cameroon and Nigerian Governments have expressed a strong commitment to collaborate in establishing a trans-boundary protected area. The BirdLife project will examine ways of strengthening protection on the Nigerian side of the border, and identifying a core protected area in Tchabal-Mbabo, with surrounding areas managed by local communities.Outside the formally protected areas, conservation strategies may be developed along the lines of the Kilum-Ijim Forest Conservation project, a collaboration between BirdLife, the Government of Cameroon, and the people of the communities in and around the forest. The Community Forests established at Kilum-Ijim have improved the quality of life for local people through sustainable forest management practices, which also protect the area`s biodiversity.The Gashaka Gumti/Tchabal-Mbabo trans-boundary collaboration highlights two important themes of this year`s World Parks Congress, said BirdLife Director and Chief Executive, Dr Michael Rands. One is the lack of formal protection of many of Africa`s Important Bird Areas, as at Tchabal-Mbabo. The other is the chronic under-resourcing of sites like the Gashaka Gumti National Park, which have been designated as protected areas, but lack the capacity for protection to be fully effective.

The study, which begins in September 2003 and is expected to take 15 months, is receiving US $390,000 in funding from the UNDP-GEF. For further information, contact: Ade Long in Durban: tel 082 370 0553; birdlifeatWPC@yahoo.com or Gareth Gardiner-Jones at BirdLife International in Cambridge, UK: tel. +44 (0)1223 279903; 07779 018 332 (mobile); gareth.gardiner@birdlife.org.uk

4th July 2014