Cameroon

Environment:

Cameroon (or Cameroun in French) is in Central Africa, bordering the Bight of Bonny between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria. The terrain is diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, and plains in north. The highest point is Mount Cameroon at 4,040 meters (13,255 feet). Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano. Cameroon is also known for its so-called exploding lakes, Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun, along the volcanic Cameroon line.

Environmental issues include waterborne diseases, deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, poaching, and overfishing. In particular mosquito borne diseases, such as meningitis, yellow fever, and malaria, are an issue in Cameroon, one of the wettest parts of Africa. Chatham House maintains a portal on illegal logging in Cameroon. Elephant poaching in particular has become a severe problem in Cameroon. It is thought that jihadist militants from outside Cameroon are responsible for much of the illegal ivory trade.

Cameroon is a member of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, part of the Central African Regional Program for the Environment. In an attempt to reverse desertification, the Centre Technique de la Forêt Communale administers large scale reforestation programs under the Programme Sectoriel Foret Environnement for the Ministère des Fôrets et de la Faune. There is a green party in Cameroon known as DEC (Défense de l’Environnement Camerounais), founded by Jean Nke Ndih. Nature Cameroon is a local environmental NGO concerned with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch is another local environmental NGO, with an eye to women’s issues. The WWF Central Africa Programme is headquartered in Cameroon.

Cameroon has 3 international Biosphere Reserves, including Waza National Park, Bénoué National Park, and Dja Faunal Reserve (linked below). Dja is also a World Heritage site. Other national parks include Bakossi National Park, Bouba Njida National Park, Boumba Bek National Park, Campo Ma’an National Park, Faro National Park, Korup National Park, Lobéké National Park, Mbam Djerem National Park, Nki National Park, and Takamanda National Park. Lobéké National Park forms part of the transborder Dzanga-Sangha Complex of Protected Areas, and made World Heritage as Sangha Trinational in 2012. There have been a number of speleological expeditions exploring the Sacred caves in the Grassfields of Cameroon.

In 2011, the Cameroon western black rhinoceros was declared extinct. In 2009, the Wildlife Conservation Society helped create the new Deng Deng National Park to protect the critically endangered Cross River gorilla. LAGA (Last Great Ape Organization Cameroon) is the first wildlife enforcement NGO in Africa, for instance helping cut back on the illegal bushmeat trade. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance lists 3 primate sanctuaries for Cameroon, Mefou Primate Park (Ape Action Africa), Limbe Wildlife Center (Pandrillus Foundation), and Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center (IDA Africa). All three sanctuaries offer programs for volunteers.

The best time to visit Cameroon is during the cool and dry months, from November to February. The only drawback is that the dusty Harmattan can blow Saharan sand between December and February, reducing visibility; though, the rainy season from May to November can be much worse than the Harmattan. Both Mount Cameroon Inter-communal Ecotourism Board and Mount Cameroon Trekking organize hiking tours. Zwinkels Tours Cameroon operates a base at Zwinkels House in Bamenda, as well as a rural lodge at Zwinkels Trekkers Camp.

COAST (Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism) is a five year international project across 9 sub-Saharan African coastal ecosystems. In Cameroon, COAST foccussed on improving the sustainability of tourism in the beach resort of Kribi. The project has foccussed on the development of 3 local areas in particular, Chutes de la Lobé (Lobe Falls), Grand Batanga, and the fishing village of Londji, as well as trying to tie-in visits to Bagyeli Pygmy villages in the Lobé valley. Though not part of the COAST project, Limbe is another popular seaside resort in Cameroon.

Biosphere Reserves:

IUCN Members:

Culture:

The earliest inhabitants of Cameroon were probably Baka people, historically categorized as a pygmies. The northern part of present day Cameroon eventually became an important part of the Muslim slave trade network. European contact came with the Portuguese in the 16th century, and subsequently with slave traders. Malaria prevented significant European settlement until the late 19th century, when large supplies of quinine became available, and by which time the slave trade was largely suppressed. In the late 19th century all of present day Cameroon became the German colony of Kamerun. Following WWI, the League of Nations divided Cameroon between French Cameroun and British Cameroons. In 1961, former French Cameroun and part of British Cameroons merged to form the current Republic of Cameroon.

As of 2013, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Far North province and to within 40 kilometers of Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. In 2013, a family of French tourists were seized near the Nigeria border by jihadist militants, but were eventually freed, reportedly in exchange for a large ransom. The U.S. State Department Overseas Security Advisory Council provides detailed, up to date crime and safety reports for Cameroon. There is a National Anticorruption Commission to address the issue of corruption in Cameroon. Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon. Cameroon lies on the African meningitis belt. Yellow fever outbreaks are not uncommon in Cameroon. The Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria fights for the control and prevention of malaria.

Cameroon forms part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, affiliated with the African Diaspora Heritage Trail. Cultural sites on the Tentative Lists of World Heritage include Site archéologique de Shum Laka, Les Gravures Rupestres de Bidzar, Les Diy-Gid-Biy du Mont Mandara, and Le Lamidat de Rey-Bouba. Although there are no ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) members registered for Cameroon, the ministry of culture, Ministère de la Culture Cameroun (mincult.gov.cm), does maintain a social media presence on Facebook. Four Museums In Cameroon – Bandjoun and Baham in west Cameroon, and Babungo and Mankon in northwest Cameroon – are showcased online. Events include the Ngondo festival, an annual gathering the Duala people on the banks of the Wouri River, and the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, an annual footrace.

Cameroon is part of the economic community of Central African states, Communauté Économique des États de l’Afrique Centrale, which is working toward a common visa to facilitate tourism. The Ministry of Tourism (MINTOUR) operates the official tourism website for Cameroon. In 2012, MINTOUR tapped a class of University of Oklahoma advertising students to pitch recommendations on how to boost tourism. The Rural Development Centre supports the Cameroon Association for Responsible Tourism. Belo Rural Development Association is involved with ecotourism development in the Northwest Region. Bambalang Eco Tourism is developing village ecotourism in the Western High Plateau. Even though Ebogo village is supposedly undergoing renovation as one of Cameroon’s most visited ecotourism sites, there seems to be nothing substantial dedicated to it online.

In 2013, the Africa Travel Association is scheduled to hold their annual congress in Cameroon. Eagle Travel Agency is based in the capital city of Yaoundé. Cameroon Tourism and Travel Agency and Global Bush Travel and Tourism Agency are based in the major port city of Douala. Camtourventures is a travel agency based in the town of Buea. Cameroon Tours and Safaris and Camtoura are tour operators in Yaoundé. Paul Bour Safaris operates the Boubandjida Safari Lodge at Bouba Njida National Park. Better World Cameroon is trying to develop the Ndanifor Permaculture Village and Eco Lodge in the aspiring eco-city of Bafut. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to Couchsurfing Cameroon. According to the bush telegraph, making friends with a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and hopefully getting passed around from one volunteer to another is supposed to be one of the best ways to experience Cameroon. There is a Facebook page for Peace Corps Cameroon. In the Northwest Region, volunteer opportunities are available from Cameroon Cultural Travelling and Volunteering, organized by Rural Village Women Network and Cameroon Partnership in Development. Volunteer Cameroon, based in Tiko, organizes volunteer opportunities in southwest Cameroon.

Cameroon lies at a key point in the Trans-African Highway network, with three routes crossing its territory. In 2011, Cameroon banned night-time public transport on roads to reduce accidents caused by drunk drivers. Camrail operates 3 main railway lines in Cameroon, Western (Douala–Kumba), Transcam 1 (Douala–Yaoundé), and Transcam 2 (Yaoundé–Ngaoundéré). Camair-Co is the national airline, and flies throughout Central Africa, as well as to France.

References:

  • Attainment of MDGs through tourism in the Central African sub-region: Implications for local economic development in Cameroon by AN Kimbu, 2012
  • Cultural Divertification Of Tourism And Their Importance: Case Study: Cameroon by N Noudou Mbiakop, 2012
  • Economic Impact of Ecotourism in Mount Cameroon Region by O Njumba, 2012
  • The Role of Transport and Accommodation Infrastructure in the Development of Eco/Nature Tourism in Cameroon A Kimbu, 2011
  • The challenges of marketing tourism destinations in the Central African subregion: the Cameroon example AN Kimbu, 2011
  • This is the authentic way! Tourism and the staging of cultural heritage in the Mandara Mountains of Cameroon by M Chétima, 2011
  • Developing rural tourism as an alternative strategy for poverty alleviation in protected areas: Example of Oku, Cameroon by NE Neba, 2010
  • Tourism destination marketing: a comparative study, between Gotland Island, Sweden and Limbe city, Cameroon by CN Ekonde, 2010
  • Ecological planning and ecotourism development in Kimbi Game Reserve, Cameroon by NE Neba, 2009
  • Art, tourism and the sustainability of tradition in the Bamenda Grassfields, North West Province, Cameroon by MF Alubafi, 2008
  • Gorilla-based tourism: a realistic source of community income in Cameroon? Case study of the villages of Koungoulou and Karagoua by E Djoh, M Wal, 2001
  • The new image of international tourism in Cameroon by N Mainet, 1985