By Jeremy Hance
A biological survey of forests slated for destruction for a palm oil project in Cameroon has uncovered 23 species of large mammals, including the world's most endangered chimpanzee subspecies, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti). The project in question, operated by U.S.-based company Herakles Farms, has come under stiff criticism both locally and abroad for threatening one of Africa's most biologically rich forest lands and arguably undercutting local peoples' access to traditional lands.
"These results show clearly that the planned concession area is of high conservation value. They also show that previous surveys were insufficient to establish adequate information on large mammal presence," a survey report reads. These intensive surveys--supported by Save Wildlife Conservation Fund, Greenpeace, WWF, and Dschang University--have also found evidence of chimp nests in the concession area.
"Some parts could even act as a chimp sanctuary," notes Kadiri Serge Bobo with Dschang University.
Only around 3,500 Nigeria-Cameroon chimps are believed to be found in the wild.
In addition to chimpanzees, surveyors also found forest elephants, which have decimated across their range by poachers; drill monkeys (Mandrillus leucophaeus), listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List; Preuss’s red colobus monkey (Procolobus preussi), considered Critically Endangered; and red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), considered Vulnerable. Surveyors also recorded four different duiker species.
The survey also looked at freshwater fish in the region and found a number of rare species, including one that may be entirely new to science. A bird survey of the area is still ongoing. More....