WCS Cameroon Mbam Djerem National Park Project
Created in January 2000, the Mbam Djerem National Park (MDNP) is located at the contact zone between the closed canopy humid forests of the Congo basin in the south and the savanna in the north. Largest forest savanna protected area of the country, MDNP is very species rich and diverse. Many streams, among them the Djerem River, flow through the park providing water to humans, livestock, and wildlife.
The park’s extraordinary habitat diversity makes it the most biologically diverse protected area in Cameroon, with ideal living conditions for more than 60 mammal species such as elephants, bongo, buffalo, hippopotamus, leopards, more than twelve diurnal primate species including two subspecies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes vellorosus and Pan troglodytes troglodytes), 65 species of reptiles, well over 500 species of birds and 30species of fish. Since 2003, WCS has been responsible for the management of this important conservation site.
The Human Aspect
An estimated 30,000 people live in 74 villages located within 20 kilometers of MDNP. These communities have a high level of poverty and limited access to employment opportunities and social infrastructure such as schools, health centers and clean water. They are dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods. Traditional livelihoods in the landscape include farming, fishing, beekeeping/honey production, livestock herding, and harvesting of non-timber forest products including bushmeat. Due to the dependence of local communities on natural resources, community education and awareness, and small-scale livelihoods projects have been a necessary part of WCS activities since it began working in the area of MDNP. These interventions will have to be taken to scale in the near future as the human population in and surrounding the landscape is expected to increase dramatically, by an estimated 50% in the next 10 years due to the construction of the Lom Pangar Dam, a new bauxite mining operation, and expansion of both artisanal and commercial gold mining in the landscape.