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Human use of Mawambi Hills forests, SW Cameroon: Implications for the survival of the Cross River gorilla.

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Most forest habitats in Cameroon support villages whose inhabitants are heavily reliant on the forests for their everyday needs. We assessed the socio-economic status and natural resource use of 3 villages bordering Mawambi Hills, an unprotected forest in southwest Cameroon, home to both the Critically Endangered Cross River gorilla Gorilla gorilla diehli and the Endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee Pan troglodytes ellioti. This forest likely hosts one of the largest sub-populations of Cross River gorillas in Cameroon and is vulnerable to human influence given that it lies in close proximity to surrounding villages and is less hilly than other Cross River gorilla habitats. We show that employment opportunities in surrounding villages are rare, and people rely on agriculture and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), such as eru Gnetum spp. and bush mango Irvingia spp., for food and income. We also show that areas of heavy human activity coincide spatially with great ape nest sites and raise concerns about the potential impact of human activities on great ape survival at the site. We call for (1) sustainable harvesting and marketing of NTFPs, (2) the introduction of alternative livelihood opportunities (e.g. beekeeping and on-farm production of NTFPs), (3) active wildlife law enforcement to safeguard the persistence of great apes, and (4) the introduction of a community-based forest management programme that will enable communities to secure the rights to use and manage surrounding forest resources legally.
Tijdschrift: Endangered Species Research
ISSN: 1863-5407
Volume: 20
Pagina's: 167-179
Jaar van publicatie:2013