A pristine African forest, the home to some of the world’s most precious and endangered species such as apes and birds is to be opened up for logging. The forest is in Cameroon and China is now Cameroon’s biggest customer with respect to timber.
It appears that the Cameroon government has gone back on a pledge to protect Ebo Forest as a pure and intact ecosystem for at least 160 species. Many of the species are unique to this forest which is located in the south-west of the country.
One such species is the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. They use sticks to fish for termites, clubs to crack open nuts and they fashion hammer-like stones as tools.
The government of President Biya said that almost 50% of the 350,000-acre forest is to be declared a forest management unit which opens it up for logging. Cameroon is one of the world’s largest exporters of tropical timber in terms of volume. In the past Europe was their biggest customer but it is now China.
People living on the edge of the forest regard it as sacred and are angry at their government reneging on their agreement to protect the forest. The Minister of forestry and wildlife, Jules Ndongo, said that, “The United Nations obliges countries to keep at least 12% of the national territory as protected areas; Cameroon is already at 30%”.
The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee is a subspecies which is considered to be the most threatened of all types of chimpanzee. There are between 3,000 and 9,000 remaining in the wild. About 700 of them live in Ebo Forest.
Comment: with this policy of logging a virgin forest, the declared 30% of protected areas in Cameroon will surely decline and there is no doubt in my mind that going forward it will be reduced to below the United Nations target of 12%. Also, the 12% figure referred to by the United Nations is not cast in concrete. It seems a very low figure. How did they arrive at it?
The worst of it, for me, is that wild species yet again lose their home. This is happening all over the planet. Habitat loss is perhaps the greatest cause of the impending extinction of many species of wild animal. This is but one example.
My thanks to The Times newspaper (hard copy).