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Mapping suitable habitat for Nigeria–Cameroon chimpanzees in Kom-Wum Forest Reserve, North-Western Cameroon
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Great apes lose suitable habitats required for their reproduction and survival due to human activities across their distribution range in Africa. Little is known about habitat suitability of the Nigeria–Cameroon chimpanzee [Pan troglodytes ellioti (Matschie, 1914)], particularly for populations inhabiting forest reserves in North-West Cameroon. To address this knowledge gap, we employed a common species distribution model (MaxEnt) to map and predict suitable habitats for the Nigeria–Cameroon chimpanzee in Kom-Wum Forest Reserve, North-West Cameroon, based on environmental factors that potentially affect habitat suitability. We related these environmental factors to a dataset of chimpanzee occurrence points recorded during line transect and reconnaissance (recce) surveys in the forest reserve and surrounding forests. Up to 91% of the study area is unsuitable for chimpanzees. Suitable habitats only represented 9% of the study area, with a high proportion of highly suitable habitats located outside the forest reserve. Elevation, secondary forests density, distance to villages and primary forests density were the most important predictors of habitat suitability for the Nigeria–Cameroon chimpanzee. The probability of chimpanzee occurrence increased with elevation, secondary forest density and distance from villages and roads. Our study provides evidence that suitable chimpanzee habitat in the reserve is degraded, suggesting that efforts to maintain protected areas are insufficient. The reserve management plan needs to be improved to conserve the remaining suitable habitat and to avoid local extinction of this endangered subspecies. © 2023, The Author(s).
Keywords:Animals, Cameroon, Ecosystem, Forests, Humans, Nigeria, Pan troglodytes