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Faro National Park: African Wildlife Foundation leads conservation of wildlife, wildlands

The NGO has established two community-led patrol units; TANGO and PAC, in order to fight insecurity around the park. If…

The NGO has established two community-led patrol units; TANGO and PAC, in order to fight insecurity around the park.

If you are in Cameroon and you are looking for somewhere unique and beautiful to visit, Faro National Park is ideal. Situated in the north region of Cameroon, the park covers a surface area of 3,300 km2 and touches the border with Nigeria. It is 250 km from the town of Garoua, with a total driving time of 5 hours.

The park is enclosed between two large sandy rivers; the Faro on the north-east and the Déo along the western side, which flows into the Faro in the far north region. The eastern side of the park is surrounded by several hunting reserves.

Faro was established as a faunal reserve in 1947 and became a national park in 1980. An estimate of 33 species of mammals and 300 species of birds can be found in the park with Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species well represented. Common animals found here are; hippopotamus, black rhinos, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, elephants, defassa cobs, guinea pigs, vervet monkeys, cheetahs, white rams. Some common birds include; Anthoscopus parvulus, Cisticola dorsti, Drymocichla incana and Campethera abingoni. Faro National Park has the largest colony of hippopotamus in Cameroon.

hippopotamus at Faro National Park (c) copyright

While there is lots for tourists to see, the park is faced with a number of challenges which if not properly tackled, could derail further development of tourism as a big revenue earner for the park. The most threats are transhumance and poaching.

This transhumance is often carried out by cattle herders from the northern regions of Cameroon and from neighbouring Nigeria and Chad, who invade the protected areas to seek greener pastures for their cows. Poaching on the other hand is practiced by the inhabitants of the Faro neighbourhood and some hunters even go as far as relying on this activity for a living.

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is working with communities to find solutions to these issues. With support from the European union through the ECOFAC 6 program, AWF has created two community-led patrol units; the association for peaceful management of transhumance known as TANGO and the conservation support staff known as personnel d’appui à la conservation (PAC).

TANGO group (c) copyright

The TANGO is a group of Fulani cattle herders who have been chosen by the community due to their honesty, integrity, ability to rule and experience in the field. They are all elites and local authorities of their various clans, but perhaps their most important credentials is their love for biodiversity.  Their mission is to prevent the local population and outsiders from entering the protected areas and organise sensitization campaigns in public places like markets where they can better explain the consequences of invading protected areas. They also identify areas where cattle herders can seek for greener pasture.While in the field, they are always faced with the problem of resistance from certain cattle herders, as Mohamadou Ahmadou, head of the TANGO commission explains.

our people still haven’t understood that not all animals are meant for consumption. Some even leave different countries with their cows and come to the protected areas in Faro. In order to solve this problem, we have been organising sensitization campaigns to dialogue with the people. So far it is showing good results,” said Ahmadou. AWF has been working in collaboration with the TANGOs to reinforce the capacity by providing them monthly allowances.

The PACs on the other hand are focused on preventing trespassing on others property to hunt or steal game without the landowner’s permission. The group is made up of young men in the community, and some of them are former poachers. Their duty consists of accompanying the ministry of forestry and wildlife in its activities at all levels and assisting all administrative persons who come on official mission to the protected areas. They also assist in collecting data from camera traps and tracing contraband game meat.“for the past 3 months, we have been fighting poachers and transhumance. We wish to prevent illegal hunting in Faro. The ECOFAC 6 project has really helped in developing our community. We thank the EU for funding this project,” said Ibrahim Gambo, a member of PAC

PAC (c) copyright

AWF, which has been working in Africa for the past 60 years to conserve wildlife and wild lands, is dedicated to supporting these patrol units to better manage conservation in the landscape. Adamou Aboubakar, AWF’s community development officer and project manager for Faro explains: “We guide the PAC members, and provide training allowances for them. As for the TANGOs, we help them articulate sensitization messages and they go to the field and bring us feedback which we use to produce our reports. Since we started doing this, the killing of hippopotamus and other species has drastically reduced and we have also made progress with reducing incidences of transhumance.”

With such concerted efforts on the ground, the splendour of Faro National Park is sure to remain with us for generations to come.

 

 

 

 

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