Fauna and Flora
The Cameroon Flora and Fauna are among the richest countries in Africa in terms of biodiversity. Cameroon supports over 900 species of birds, over 300 mammals and many other stunning creatures.
The diversity of landscapes and climates in Cameroon obviously has direct consequence on the flora. Cameroon has both dense tropical rainforests and sub-tropical forests.
The South region is dominated by rainforests which represents one third of the total area of the country, despite sometimes the severe deforestation, particularly in the Southwest region(the most densely populated region).
This vast forest area is borded to the West by the Atlantic Ocean, and through the mangrove vegetation that grows in marshy areas. Going up north, we then gradually move to a tropical climate, where the forest gives way to savannah.
The plain of Massif in the Adamawa region, where one can find a more temperate climate, alternating landscapes of forests and grassland suitable for grazing.
Continuing to the Far North region, one can find a dry tropical forest, Sahelian type, and further find semi-desert land scapes.
It is estimated that the Cameroonian forest occupies 45% of the entire territory. The measures vary according to the experts, but we understand that this proportion has always complicated the task of agriculture and industrialization as well as the establishment of an effective communication network.
However, after forty years, most have been cleared to promote agricultural development adapted to the soil and climate. Many villages engaged in agricultural work and large plantation cultivation. It is estimated that during the last twenty years, about 10% of the Cameroonian forest had disappeared in favour of crops. Deforestation in recent decades is one of the largest problems in Africa, which specialists emphasized that the remaining 90%, about one-fifth of the forest has been highly degraded by human activities.
But this forest is one of the six areas of the Congo Basin Forest which covers a total of 660,000 km ² (more than the French territory) and is the second largest reserve of oxygen in the world after the Amazon. This forest’s wealth, which benefits the timber industry, but its reverse to the country that remains under-developed and less well endowed with natural resources than some of its neighbours in Africa (including Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo).
For several years, overexploitation increasingly concerned observers of the environment (remember that in the last fifteen years, the production of timber from Cameroon has tripled). Other countries have been experiencing in the past a vast deforestation which eventually deprived them of their forest resources. Western and Asian industries have indeed turned their eyes and their equipment to the manna which unfortunately is not inexhaustible.
Europe is actively involved in this exploitation, and Switzerland, for example, whose attitude vis-à-vis the environment is often shown as an example of which Cameroon has made its second supplier. The forestry sector employs over 30,000 people, provides nearly 40% of income from operations (if one excludes petroleum products), and the main customer of Cameroon now is the Asian continent.
The French, who have also contributed greatly to the development efforts of Cameroon in the 1950s, especially with regard to the layout of the channels of communication and the development of the oil industry, are also very active in this area and 3 large enterprises (Thanry, Ballore, Rougier) share about 30% of forest reserves.
Despite frequent warnings on environmental care and Cameroonian policy for the protection of forests, it seems inconceivable that the exploitation of Cameroon’s forests is slowing in the years to come. Note however that, through referrals and support of international cooperation, several regions have been classified and protected in Cameroon some years back (the conference on the conservation of fauna and flora of Africa held in London in 1933 was without doubt to trigger this awareness), as nature reserves (the Dja, the Douala-Edea or that of Faro in particular), or as national parks (Waza, Benue, Bouba Ndjida, Kalamaloué, Korup, Campo Ma’an, Mbam and Djérem …)
Savannah is the transition between forest and steppe, trees are rare and mostly smaller, given the difficult weather conditions. It is dominated by more resistant to drought tall grass. It is however still rainforests around major rivers.
In the rest of the savannah grasses are queens, with significant heights (often more than 1m). When the humidity allows, these herbs can reach 3m high.
Size decreases the amount of herbs to the north and the drier areas to give way to grass more resistant. These savannahs are dotted with small trees, usually thorny acacias like (popular giraffes) size.
These trees, which are also found further north in the steppes pads are specially adapted to arid climate with an extensive network of roots and buried deep in the ground.
The tree most traditionally associated with the savannah, however, remains the baobab more impressive by its diameter by height (rarely more than 20 m) and waterlogged wood, allowing it to survive dry periods.
The Cameroon offers a magnificent example of tropical forest in the southern part: in addition to a wealth of wildlife, the document identifies several hundred different species of trees forming a vast ocean to the various shades of green, organized into several levels almost imperceptible due to the abundance of vegetation and its entanglement. The largest trees in the rainforest can reach 60 m high. They form a primer plant dome which is completed on the lower floor by smaller trees (up to 10 m high).
Given their size, these trees are based on trunks generally impressive by their size, ranging up to form a sort of foothills.
The Cameroon Fauna is among the richest in terms of biodiversity in Africa. Cameroon supports over 900 species of birds, over 300 mammals and many other stunning creatures.
While wildlife in Cameroon is not as rich and diverse like in East Africa, or in Southern Africa, but most of the large animals of the savannah and tropical forests can be seen here: lions, cheetahs, elephants , giraffes, rhinos, hippos, buffaloes, antelopes, gazelles, pangolins, warthogs, hartebeest, manatees, and many species of monkeys (some gorillas in the sanctuary of Mengeme, south-east of the country), reptiles (turtles, crocodiles, snakes), birds, fish and insects.
Some Cameroon Fauna Types
Birds: Cameroon has a wide variety of tropical birds. There are actually over 900 species living in the country, which will surely delight all ornithologists, professional or novice.
At such a profusion of birdlife it has its drawbacks, however – if you can call it disadvantages – because it is very difficult for scientists to draw up a detailed inventory and update of the population of different species and to study all.
Among them (most of which are protected), we can mention: the ostrich, the largest bird in the world, who finds refuge mainly in the Waza National Park, the Turaco, which resembles a large pheasant with colourful feathers and its cry very recognizable lamps repeatedly remind of a little rooster, less strident, but the bald rock fowl, a small multi-coloured bird very rare civet, grey heron, great Abyssinian hornbill, parrot dinghy, the sand grouse, francolins.
Fishes: The Ocean is full of fish off the coast of Cameroon, and if fishing is not very developed, this abundance is often the delight of tourists who come to some parts for sport fishing in the Gulf of Guinea (boats offer excursions from the marina or from Kribi to Douala).
From December to May, we can get marlin, swordfish, dorado, barracuda (also very present in November), tarpon and in November, are the large barracuda that often go off.
Rivers and lakes (especially Lake Chad) also harbour many species, and a fishing trip in a traditional pirogue makes it possible to often see closer in these rivers: the hippos.
Elephants: The mythical animal of the African savannah is present in Cameroon, especially in the Waza National Park where it is not uncommon to see large herds.
In fact, elephants live in small family groups of 10 to 20 people in general, who gather regularly around water points (as Elephants pond in the park of Waza) or feeding areas to then form much larger herds.
The society in which elephants live is matriarchal, and it is always the older women who dominate the herd.
An elephant has a life expectancy of 60 to 70 years, weighing between 5 and 6.5 tonnes and eats an average of 250 kg of food per day.
The elephant is a protected species in Cameroon, as elsewhere, but it is unfortunately chased by poachers who always want its ivory.
It must be said that the legislation demonstrated laxity to the hunters by prohibiting only hunting firearm, but often continued to tolerate traditional practice – spear, bow and arrow – for local hunters.
In Cameroon, there is the savannah elephant in the park of Waza National Park, which is best known by visitors and the forest elephant in the Lobéké National Park, which made its debut on the tourist map.
Giraffe: This mammal with long necks and casual elegance is a shy and peaceful animal that can be admired in the savannah and steppes of northern Cameroon.
It feeds on the leaves of acacia, these thorn trees that you will not miss to see if you go cross the Waza Park.
An adult giraffe measures an average of 5m tall and weighs between 900 and 1,400 kg. It derives its name from Arabic xirapha, meaning «one that works fast»
Hippo: This is a big amphibious mammal over 2 tons that can be observed in several rivers and ponds in the country, including the Benue, the Noun and the Sanaga. Seemingly peaceful, it is able to rant impressively when it comes to conquering a female or to show its authority. It is also amazing to see how fast it can run on land.
Be very careful if you come in contact with an out of the water hippo, it can quickly become very aggressive and charge, especially if it perceives that you cut its retreat to the water: several attacks of hippo, sometimes fatal, are reported every year.
Manatee: A large herbivorous mammal, sometimes called the sea cow, which can be observed in the vicinity of Lake Ossa including floating around which, because of its size and its appearance a bit scary to leave the water, some strange legends. It also goes by the name Mamy water, the «mother of water».
Lion: This cat, often regarded as the king of the jungle, is actually a regular of savannah and steppes where it sometimes gives the impression – false – to do nothing other than long naps in the shade.
This is of course a major tourist attraction in the large parks in the north: Waza national park, Benoue national park, Faro reserve and Bouba Ndjida national park.
An adult lion weighs on average 240kg while an adult lioness weighs only 160kg. Lion spend much of the night hunting, playing and making rounds on its territory. They live in herds which may include thirty individuals, including 4-12 lionesses that remain in the group throughout their lives.
Lions protect females against the males of other clans and are very committed to their territory and breeding, ranging in size between 50 and 400km², defending them fiercely. At the age of 2 or 3 years, the young lions are driven away from the herd, which then begins a nomadic life which usually ends around the age of 5 years, when they are able to lead their own clan.
Snakes: There are numerous species of snakes in Cameroon, some of which are very poisonous. Centre Pasteur Effect estimated at 600 the number of deaths per year due to snake bites (5% of bites), and are notably the Sahelian small viper which are very present in the Far North province of the country.
The most dangerous among the species are: the Gabon viper, the green mamba (arboreal snake whose venom is overwhelming) and the spitting cobra (present in the dry savannah and capable of projecting its venom up to 3m to its aggressors, causing temporary blindness and intense pain).
These snakes avoid human contacts, and they bite as a measure to defend themselves. They live in the forest or in bushes, but can also be found on more open land, especially after rain.
A measure of caution: it is advisable to be extremely careful when you go for adventure in this type of environment.
Cayor (worm): Vicious parasite that thrives under the skin of those who wore clothes where the fly has laid its larvae (usually damp cotton cloth).
The manifestation are skin boils marked by a black dot that cause more itching than pain.
Scorpion: Scorpions come out at night in general, so it is strongly advised to wear closed shoes after sunset and check in the morning before reuse, to be sure one has not slipped inside.
The scorpion sting is painful, but not fatal in Cameroon (in tropical Africa in general), except in infants.
Mosquitoes: There is no need to present them. Mosquitoes are of course widespread in Cameroon, particularly in the southern part of the country, hot and humid and some of them can transmit malaria.
It is therefore necessary to protect oneself with mosquito nets in the night or other anti-mosquito products, and take the necessary treatment to reduce the risk of attracting malaria.
Cameroon’s major environmental issues include:
Waterborne diseases are prevalence: It is susceptible to volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes.
Throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity. Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan West Africa, is an active volcano.
Ponds and rivers
The basin of the Atlantic: The Wouri, The Nkam, The Noun, Sanaga, Nyong
The Congo Basin: The Bok, The Lobo, The Sangha, The Dja
Niger Basin: The Mayo Kebbi, Benue, Faro
The Chad Basin: Logone, Vina, Chari.
The Sanaga River is the longest river in Cameroon (918 km).
Crater lakes: Lake Oku, Tizong Lake, Lake Bini, Barombi Lake, Lake Nyos
Lakes subsistence: Lake Ossa, Dissoni Lake, Lake Ejagal
Lakes basin: Lake Chad, Lake Fianga
Artificial lakes: Lake Bamendjing on Noun, Lake Mbakaou on Djerem
Hydrology - Water Balance countries
Precipitation on the country are quite abundant on average, they feed courses often powerful water.
According to Aquastat7 , the height of average annual water precipitation is 1604 mm , or an area of ??475,440 square kilometres, a volume of annual rainfall of 762.61 cubic kilometres ( in France : 47799 km3 ) .
This volume of precipitation, evapotranspiration and infiltration consume some 494.61 km3. 268 km3 of surface water resources produced within the country (internal). More renewable amount of 5 km3 of groundwater is produced annually and internally also. A total volume of 273 km3 of water produced internally.
The country also receives additional water from neighbouring countries , namely 4 km3 from the Republic of Chad representative flow tributaries of the Benue (Mayo Kebbi ) and 8.5 km3 also from Chad and constituting half the rate of the Logone (17 km3 ), river frontière. This makes a total of 12.5 km3 from external.
Water resources of the country therefore amount to a total of 285.5 cubic kilometres (that is to say 285 500 000 000 m3). For a population of some 18 million people, the annual water availability per capita per year thus amounts to roughly 15,800 cubic meters , which is very high.
It should be added that part of the volume of water produced in the country, amounting to 40 km3 annually leave the territory, and to the following countries:
To Nigeria : 29 km3 ( Benue and its tributaries)
To Chad : 4.7 km3 (Logone)
To the Republic of Congo : 6.3 km3 (the Sangha and its tributaries such as the Dja)