Hungry elephants, Cameroon farmers struggle to coexist

October 17, 2022 / 11:43 PM
Sharjah24 - AFP: Banana growers on the edge of a giant national park on Cameroon's Atlantic coast say they can take no more crop destruction from hungry elephants as the conflict between man and animal escalates.

Near the southern border with Equatorial Guinea, eight villages have registered complaints with the Campo Ma'an national park, a vast area of virgin forest from where the animals emerge.

An estimated 500 gorillas and more than 200 elephants -- both endangered species -- roam the reserve's 264,000 hectares (652,000 acres).

A week after elephants flattened his banana plantation close by the park, Simplice Yomen, 47, is struggling to cope.

"We are at the end of our tether," he sighs.

The elephants eat the new growth inside the banana tree trunks after splitting them open.

Manioc, maize, sweet potato and peanuts are also favourite snacks, says park administrator Michel Nko'o.

In Cameroon, co-existence between humans and animals on the edge of dense forests is proving increasingly challenging.

Most of the crop destruction is recorded near protected wildlife reserves.

For Nko'o, the elephant raids have become noticeably more frequent since agro-industrialists began setting up by the park.

More 2,000 hectares of forest has been chopped down to grow palm oil trees for Cameroun Vert, an industrial plantation project for which the government first approved a clearing of 60,000 hectares before reducing it to 39,000 hectares after protests.

"The elephants who lived here no longer have any place to go and end up in people's fields," regrets park conservationist Charles Memvi.
October 17, 2022 / 11:43 PM

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