- Central Cameroon Photo
- ©Aaron Nicholas
More than 600 lowland gorillas, as well as chimpanzees, forest elephants, buffalo, and bongo, live in this region of central Cameroon, where the Congo basin rainforest slopes into savannah. Two national parks help to protect this vital landscape: Mbam & Djerem, which has probably the greatest habitat diversity of any protected area in Cameroon, and Deng Deng, created in 2009 with the help of WCS.
Stretching from the southern slopes of the Adamaoua plateau in the north to the closed canopy lowland rainforest of the Congo Basin in the southeast, Mbam & Djerem encompasses rainforests, riverine and gallery forests, savanna woodlands, and grasslands. The Sanaga River, named the Djerem upstream, is the main water catchment for most of southern Cameroon and the park, providing water to humans, livestock, and wildlife as well as almost all of the country’s hydroelectric power.
Deng Deng is 224 square miles in area—approximately the size of the city of Chicago. In addition to the 600 lowland gorillas, it protects chimpanzees, forest elephants, buffalo, and bongo.
- Mbam & Djerem’s extraordinary habitat diversity supports more than 60 mammal species, 400 bird species, 65 reptile species, and 30 fish species.
- 74 villages with a combined population of approximately 30,000 people live adjacent to Mbam & Djerem National Park.
Habitat fragmentation and degradation, hunting for bushmeat trade, and overgrazing pose the greatest threats to wildlife in this landscape. The many rural communities depend on hunting bush meat for food and to sell to local markets and high-volume urban markets. The growth of industrial complexes (logging concessions, hydro-electric power projects, and bauxite mining) in the southern and northeastern corners of the landscape threaten Mbam & Djerem National Park. In the dry season, semi-nomadic Fulani cattle-herders drive their cows deep into the park’s savannahs in search of water and grazing grounds. The majority of peasant farmers in the periphery of the park practice slash-and-burn agriculture. In addition, unsustainable exploitation of non-timber forest products and overgrazing have exacerbated habitat losses.
WCS has had a long history in Cameroon, beginning in 1988. In partnership with the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, private economic operators such as CAMRAIL (the Cameroon Railways cooperation)
, and other non-governmental organizations, WCS continues to play a critical role in enforcing regulations on the illegal trade and transport of wildlife. We also help to promote eco-friendly income generating activities for local communities.
WCS researchers provided crucial baseline data for gorilla, chimpanzee, and other key wildlife populations in Deng Deng in 2002, leading to the upgrading of this area. In addition to working on field projects in central Cameroon, we have advised the country on priority setting for biodiversity conservation, planning, and sustainable use of natural resources.
From the Newsroom
This investigative piece from CNN focuses on the growing and illegal commercial trade of bushmeat in Cameroon, and features a WCS conservationist who is working to help the country combat it.
In the rainforests of Central Africa, hunters are finding their way into once inaccessible terrain, spelling disaster for forest elephants.
A WCS census confirms a healthy population of western lowland gorillas in and around Cameroon’s Deng Deng National Park.