Waza National Parc, located in the Extreme North of Cameroon, is unique in many aspects. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the parc offers a great biodiversity value and it is the only protected nature reserve in this Sahel region. According to the latest population survey of 2019 , the parc still holds some 20 individuals of the endangered northern subspecies of lion.
But the parc, and thus its lions, is under increasing human pressure. Despite management efforts over the past years to restore the balance between local people’s needs and effective wildlife conservation actions, recent reports from e.g. the local NGO ‘ACEEN’ suggest that more needs to be done, soon. At several of the waterholes inside the park, where elephants, giraffe, antelope, warthogs, lions and great flocks of birds would typically gather, they found that fishermen had built entire fishing camps. And in areas where plenty of Kob antelope and topi would normally roam, the team encountered large herds of cattle, accompanied by their nomadic herdsmen and guard dogs.
This has serious consequences for the parc’s lions specifically, as they are more likely to attack cattle inside the park but will also travel longer distances beyond the parc’s boundaries to search for suitable prey. Last month’s disturbing news of a lion having been killed by local villagers at more than 100 kilometers North of Waza is yet another indication of the alarming situation (view the report – in French – by ACEEN for more details).
In order to turn the tide for the parc, Leo Foundation took the initiative to re-investigate options to enhance the parc’s management and to help local communities and the Cameroonian government to preserve their natural heritage. Supported by the Lion Recovery Fund, a survey will be undertaken under supervision of ecologist and lion expert Dr. Pricelia Tumenta from Cameroon. Based on the findings from this survey, we intend to engage and encourage an international NGO and other relevant parties to invest in more structural and sustainable support for Waza National Parc. We have asked a.o. Globe Guards, IUCN-NL, IUCN International, IUCN Cat Specialist Group and the African Lion Working Group to endorse our initiative.