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Home > Elephants of Cameroon > Field Diaries > Headed Southeast

Headed Southeast

by Mike Loomis
July 10, 2012

We've decided to go to southeastern Cameroon for the next phase of our work. Our specific workplace will be in the area of southeastern Cameroon that borders both Gabon and Congo. We will leave Limbe on Friday, 13 July 2012, and spend Friday night in Yaounde. From there, we'll proceed to the village of Djoum [map] and spend Saturday night. We'll then leave for the field on Sunday and work for approximately nine days, with a plan to return to Limbe on 25 July to wrap up.

We are somewhat familiar with this area already. In the past, this has been a region with high poaching rates; so much poaching, as a matter of fact, that elephants did not even slow down as they migrated through the region. In the last couple of years, however, we have learned that poaching has declined and, as a result, elephants are more numerous.

There are also nine logging concessions in this area. However, thanks to environmental concerns, those logging concessions have never been used and were ended by the Cameroonian government, leaving the forests still standing. As part of that arrangement, local communities were directed to figure out a different way to make the forests economically useful. The communities initially decided to sell carbon exchanges in the nine forest zones—in other words, to preserve the forests so that they can be used to limit the impacts of global climate change. Since that time, the communities have gone even further and decided that they will put the nine forest zones up for auction and allow both timber companies and carbon exchangers to bid on them, with the highest bidder taking those parts of the forest. It will be very interesting to see who eventually obtains those forest zones, and how much money they pay to do so.

As a sidenote, we've learned that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated the Sangha Trinational region (which includes national parks and other lands in southeastern Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo) as a World Heritage site. This spot is incredibly rich in wildlife, including forest elephants and great apes, and is well-deserving of IUCN designation. To learn more about this, be sure to see the IUCN website.

mugshotAbout the author:

Dr. Mike Loomis is Chief Veterinarian at the North Carolina Zoological Park.

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