The Bénoué-Gumti area is an extensive conservation complex, consisting of five national parks (NP): one in Nigeria, one in Tchad and three in Cameroon. These parks are connected by hunting zones and conservation areas. The total surface area is approximately 30,000 km2. The national parks are: Faro, Bénoué and Bouba-Ndjidda in Cameroon, Sena Oura in Tchad and Gashaka-Gumti in Nigeria. In 32 surrounding hunting zones in Cameroon hunting safari’s are allowed during the dry season. Research showed a significant difference between lion densities in parks and hunting zones, with lower densities inside hunting zones. Some parks are negatively impacted by gold prospectors and grazing by large M’bororo (nomadic farmers) cattle herds. The isolated population in Waza NP, in the extreme North of Cameroon and interactions with Nigerian lion populations, are also included in this project.
This ecosystem can be characterized as Sudan-Guinea Savannah, the transition area between the dry Sahel Savannah to the North and the rainforest ecosystems to the South. It consists largely of relatively thick woodland with pockets of grassland, floodplains and highland. The lion population in this area is estimated at 200 individuals, a guesstimate derived from intensive surveys in Faro (30 lions), Bénoué (40 lions) and Bouba-Ndjidda (60 lions) and the surrounding hunting zones (70 lions). An update of population numbers is urgently needed. Information for Nigeria and Tchad is not available.
In the past we mainly focused on human-wildlife conflicts; monitoring, research and information gathering. For the future, we will focus on strengthening local capacity for nature conservation, policy advocacy, organising workshops, training lions guards and park managers, conflict mitigation, monitoring lions with transmitters, an awareness campaign for the local communities and educational programmes for school children.