The results of the study implemented by staff of the Leo foundation and students of Leiden University in Bouba Ndjida NP, North Cameroon, have now been published in African Journal of Ecology. This study showed that lion and spotted hyena populations in Bouba Ndjida NP seem to have increased between 2005 and 2014. This result was base on a comparison between a calling station survey that Leo Foundation has performed in 2014 with the calling station survey performed by dr Hans Bauer of Wildcru, Oxford in 2005. This project has been sponsored by US Fish and Wildlife Service and Prins Bernhard Natuurfonds.
As was previously announced, the Leo Foundation received funding from the WWF to assess the situation in Waza National Park, Cameroon. This park is situated in the extreme North of Cameroon, a region that suffered greatly from the presence of Boko Haram in the past years. As the security situation is improving, it is time to thoroughly analyse the situation of Waza National Park in its current state.
The assessment was done in close collaboration with the Centre d’Étude de l’Environnement et du Développement (CEDC), in Cameroon. During the study, we performed a number of ‘calling stations’. This is a method to attract lion and other large carnivores, which enables us to make an estimate regarding their population size. The response from the lions was impressive, indicating that the population may be bigger than we previously assumed. The size of the population is now estimated to be around 23 individuals. In addition, there were sighting of other wildlife, including prey species for lions. This gives us hope for Waza National Park and the unique savannah system that it is protecting.
To keep the momentum going for the West and Central Africa Species Action Plan (WCASAP), which was launched during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, we are trying to team up with a number of large NGOs, all member of IUCN.
The Leo Foundation has sponsored a visit of Gueye Mallé from Senegal to the University of Antwerp in Belgium in May 2017.
Last month, chair Hans the Iongh of Leo Foundation visited the Nairobi Lion Project in Kenya, a project that is coordinated by PhD student Francis Lesilau. A very successful visit with many aspects and activities.
Leo Foundation has been accepted as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN NL). This brings the total of Dutch member organisation to 36. Leo Foundation aims to protect large carnivores such as lions, leopards, hyena’s, tigers and African wild dogs.
We can greatly benefit from the knowledge of the IUCN-network, says Leo-chairman Hans de Iongh; members of the Leo Foundation are already actively involved in the activities of the Species Survival Committee, Cat and Canid Specialist Group, Conservation Genetics Specialist Group, and the African Lion Working Group.
IUCN NL offers a platform for Dutch IUCN-member organisations that range from nature and environmental organisations and scientific institutions to the Dutch government. Coenraad Krijger, director of IUCN NL: “Thanks to their field projects in several African countries, Leo Foundation brings in practical experience. But at the same time, because of their affiliation with research group of Leiden University, they also have important scientific knowledge to share. I look forward to many interesting exchanges within our member base.”
The National Geographic Junior school diary 2017/2018 is out. It gives attention to our activities and 10 percent of the proceeds go to our foundation. Naturally, we are very grateful for this! We will use this money to buy new camera traps for our lion guards in Cameroon. The school diary is available at National Geographic, HEMA and Bruna.
The West and Central African Species Action Plan (WCASAP), which was launched by the Leo Foundation and partners at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016, was recently discussed at a joint meeting between the Leo Foundation and employees of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) during a visit to the UK. We discussed the best way forward to get more attention and funding for critically endangered species in that region of Africa to benefit conservation. A fruitful meeting on a very hot Ascension Day.
What is WCASAP?
The acronym stands for West- and Central African Species Action Plan. It is an initiative originating from the IUCN World Conservation Congresses in 2012 and a follow up in 2016, to get support for species which are (regionally) critically endangered in West and Central Africa. The WCASAP initiative is restricted to terrestrial and freshwater vertebrate species. In total, there are 97 species on the list, mostly fish and amphibian species, but also primates, lions and painted dogs. The aim of the initiative is to attract focused funding and to boost regional conservation impact. In addition, it will facilitate the creation of a network of organisations active in the region, which –although working on different species- can complement each other. As most organisations depend on fundraising, we hope that large funding agencies, such as the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZSCF) and the Save Our Species (SOS) fund, will adopt the initiative and use the WCASAP species list as a priority criterion in their awarding procedures.
Why is Leo Foundation involved?
Recognizing its potential, the Leo Foundation adopted the WCASAP initiative and co-organised a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016. The initiative was officially launched at this occasion and received wide support from IUCN members, both from the region of West and Central Africa, and from outside the region. The Leo Foundation is now looking for larger conservation partners to give support to the WCASAP initiative, hence our meeting with the ZSL.
The ZSL is an experienced and established organisation in nature conservation and it has shown interest in the initiative. We had a fruitful discussion and will use their suggestions to further develop the initiative.
The second Children’s Bushcamp of the Leo Foundation in Cameroon was a big success! This April 216 children and their teachers stayed one and a half day at Bénoué National Park. During an interactive program the children learned about the flora and fauna of the nature close to home. ‘Both the children as their teachers told us that they learned many new things regarding nature,’ reports Elise Bakker from the field.
Between 17 April and 24 April 2017, the second Childrens Bushcamp 2017 in Bénoué National Park, North Cameroon was held. It was a very successful activity in which local children and their teachers got the opportunity to get to know their national park where they are living close to, and often have never visited. During the week, we have received three groups of around 75 children and their teachers to stay one and a half day in Bénoué NP. In total, this means that 216 local pupils and 26 teachers have participated during the Childrens Bushcamp!
The children were picked up by busses at their schools early in the morning and brought inside Bénoué NP. After arrival, the day was started with a light breakfast. Then all children were again subdivided in three groups and received a name batch. Finally it was time to start the first lessons. During their stay the children received lessons in Herbivores/Carnivores, Botany and Ecosystem/Habitat. Lessons were both theoretical as well there was an outdoor activity and indoor practice. Over the one and a half day that the children were in the park, they attended classes in all three subjects.
Both the children as their teachers told us that they learned many new things regarding nature. Besides, they saw different types of wildlife (Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Kob, Buffalo etc.) for the first time in their life!
After dinner and a good shower, the evening was closed with a nature documentary about large carnivores in a real bush cinema atmosphere. Children and the teachers slept in the touristic camp of Bénoué NP. Everybody was honoured to get the chance to sleep in the famous camp of which they had heard so much about in the villages. The next day, again one course was given and before the children would head back home, a game of Bingo was played, and all children received a diploma and photos were taken as a reminder of a wonderful time.
Courses were given by experienced teachers from Ecole de Faune Garoua. For the bush activities and practices, they were assisted by 16 Eco-guards from Bénoué NP and 6 Lion guards. They were important to tell about their bush experiences, but also to safeguard the security of all visitors. Moreover, we were blessed with well-oiled machine in the kitchen which served three meals per day on time. Two drivers from Ecole de Faune, Garoua were indispensable for bringing the pupils to and back school driving through rough terrain. Last, personnel of the Camp of Bénoué NP was kindly available for extra supporting activities such as pumping water, or helping in the kitchen.
The protected areas in the Bénoué complex are currently heavily under threat by different types of human encroachments. It is important to teach the local communities about the importance of their ecosystem and why and how to protect it for future generations. In this project we are aiming for the young generations, since they are still open to learn and are often not fixed in old habits.
More pictures can be found on our Facebook page.
WWF funds the Leo Foundation with 10,000 euros for a project in Waza National Park. This park is situated in the extreme Northern region of Cameroon and has suffered severely under the presence of Boko Haram in the area. We will use the money to assess the condition of the parks biodiversity and support park management in its job to strengthen the protection of the park now that Boko Haram has left.
Waza National Park is a unique park in the extreme north of Cameroon. It was a popular tourism destination, especially for bird watchers. Because of its diverse landscapes the park has a rich diversity of bird species. It is also home to lions, elephants and giraffes. The park is not fenced and is located in a densely populated area. This often leads to conflicts between lions and nomadic herders. For example, when the herders access the park to let their cattle drink at the water holes of wild animals.
With the arrival of Boko Haram from Nigeria tourism in the area came to a halt, as well as scientific research. Resulting in outdated estimates for surviving lions and herbivores. Now that the Cameroonian army expelled Boko Haram from the area, scientific research is again possible.
With the money of WWF’s INNO-fund we are starting anew with estimating population densities of lions and their prey species. This knowledge is of great importance to protect the parks nature and provides park management with much needed information on how to strengthen the protection of the park. We also use camera traps that can be remotely accessed with a smartphone. Almost half the park has GSM network coverage. This means that cameras no longer have to be checked manually, saving both time and fuel enabling us to work cheaper and more efficiently.
The INNO-fund of WWF supports small Dutch organisations with projects that boost international nature conservation using innovative methods.