NAME Dja Faunal Reserve
IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORY
IV (Nature Conservation Reserve/Managed Nature Reserve)
Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria ii, iv
BIOGEOGRAPHICAL PROVINCE 3.02.01 (Congo Rain Forest)
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION On the Dja River in the
Central-Southern and Eastern Provinces of Cameroon, 243km south-east of
Yaoundé, and 5km west of Lomie. The river almost completely encircles
the reserve, forming its natural boundary, except to the south-west. 2°
49'-3° 23'N, 12° 25'-13° 35'E
AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT Protected as a 'réserve de faune
et de chasse' by Law No. 319 of 25 April 1950, and then as a 'réserve
de faune' under the National Forestry Act Ordinance No. 73/18 of 22 May
1973. Reported to have received some protection as early as 1932, protection
for certain species within Dja was stipulated by Decree No. 2254
of 18 November 1947, which regulated hunting in the French African territories.
Internationally recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and
the Biosphere Programme in 1981 and inscribed on the World Heritage List
in 1984. Proposed as a national park.
526,000ha. Biosphere Reserve 500,000ha.
400m to 800m
FEATURES Except in the south-east of the reserve, the relief is fairly
flat and consists of a succession of round-topped hills. A major fault
line on the southern edge of the reserve, which is followed by the Dja
River, has lead to the formation of rather deeper cut valleys on the south
eastern edge of the plateau. The reserve is, in fact, virtually encircled
by the Dja River, which flows west along the long northern boundary of
the reserve, and then along the southern boundary, before flowing southeast
as a tributary to the Congo. Cliffs run along the course of the river
in the south for some 60km, and are associated with a section of the river
broken up by rapids and waterfalls. The underlying substratum is formed
of crystalline metamorphic rocks of Precambrian origin, part of the Mbalmayo-Bengbis
series. These are principally schists, gneisses and quartzite. The soil
is porous red ferralitic clay, poor in nutrients and fragile.
Equatorial type climate, with two rainfall peaks (May and September),
and temperatures similar throughout the year. Mean annual temperature
is 23.3° C (recorded at 640m) and the mean annual rainfall around 1570mm.
August is the coolest month, with a mean monthly minimum of 18° C and
maximum of 27° C, and April is the hottest with mean minimum temperature
of 19° C and maximum of 30° C. There is less than 100mm rainfall during
3 months of the year.
Dja is located in a transition zone between the forests of southern Nigeria
and south-west Cameroon and the forests of the Congo Basin, and it seems
likely that the forests of the region are essentially undisturbed. The
vegetation mainly comprises dense evergreen Congo rain forest with a main
canopy at 30-40m rising to 60m. Some 43 species of tree form the canopy,
with legumes being particulary common. Species listed include Afzelia
bipindensis (V), Anthonotha ferruginea and Piptandeniastrum
africanum (V) in the Leguminosae, Sterculia oblonga and Triplochiton
scleroxylon (V) in the Sterculiaceae, rouge Entandrophragma
sp., Guarea cedrata, and Lovoa trichilioides in the Meliaceae,
and Baillonella toxisperma (V) in the Sapotaceae, as well as Afrostyrax
lepidophyllus, Anopyxis klaineana, Terminalia superba
(V), kapok Ceiba pentandra, Nauclea diderrichii (V), and
Canarium schweinfurthii. The shrub layer contains over 53 species
including species of Diospyros and Drypetes, as well as
internationally threatened Staudtia kamerunensis (V), Cola
spp., Syzygium jambos, Macaranga sp. and Dacryodes buettneri
(V). The forest is also rich in lianes. The herbaceous layer is composed
principally of Marantaceae and Mapania spp. The Congo rainforest
is also characterised by almost pure stands of Gilbertiodendron dewevrei
forest. Other main vegetation types are swamp vegetation with Anthocleista
nobilis, Raphia hookeri and Alstonai (Pacouria) spp.,
and secondary forest around old villages (which were abandoned in 1946)
and recently abandoned cocoa and coffee plantations. Composition of the
secondary forest is noticeably different as a result of the relative scarcity
of species of the Meliaceae. Results of a 1987 vegetation survey are given
in Bedel et al., 1987. Unless otherwise indicated,
threatend species are threatened at a national level.
Although the area is poorly studied, it is known to have a wide range
of primate species including western lowland gorilla Gorilla
gorilla gorilla (EN), greater white-nosed guenon Cercopithecus
nictitans, moustached guenon C. cephus,
crowned guenon C.
pogonias, talapoin Miopithecus
talapoin, red-capped mangabey Cercocebus
torquatus (LR), white-cheeked mangabey C. albigena,
agile mangabey C.
galeritus (LR), drill Mandrillus
leucophaeus (EN), mandrill Mandrillus
sphinx (LR), potto Perodicticus
potto, Demidorff's galago Galago
demidovii, black and white colobus monkey Colobus
angolensis and chimpanzee Pan
troglodytes (EN). Other mammals include elephant Loxodonta
africana (EN), bongo Tragelaphus
euryceros (LR), sitatunga T.
spekei (LR), buffalo Syncerus
caffer (LR), leopard Panthera
pardus, warthog Phacochoerus
aethiopicus, giant forest hog Hylochoerus
meinertzhageni, and pangolin Manis sp. Birds include Bates's
batesi (VU), which is endemic to southern Cameroon, and grey-necked
oreas (VU) probably also occurs in this reserve. The type locality
of Dja River warbler Bradypterus
grandis (DD) is near the reserve and there are few other records
of this kind. Reptiles include python, lizard and two species of crocodile
(both of which are threatened species). Details of a 1987 fauna survey
are given in Bedel et al. (1987).
HERITAGE A population of pygmies lives within the reserve, in small
sporadic encampments, maintaining an essentially traditional lifestyle
(although there would appear to be an increasing use of more modern methods).
HUMAN POPULATION The pygmies are free to hunt within the reserve using
traditional methods. Although population density in the region is low,
there are some villages close to the reserve. Inhabitants near Somalomo
fish in the Dja and tributaries on its left bank, and cultivate mainly
coffee, cocoa and cucumbers (for their seeds, which fetch high prices)
(Bedel et al., 1987).
AND VISITOR FACILITIES None. Bedel et al. (1987)
make recommendations for tourism development to involve the local population.
RESEARCH AND FACILITIES Some phytogeographic studies have been carried
out (Letouley, 1968), and a research report on fauna has been prepared
(Rowell, 1975), yet the reserve is essentially poorly known. There are
no research facilities.
VALUE Comprises one of the largest and best protected humid forests
in Africa, which is particularly noted for its biodiversity and wide variety
MANAGEMENT Agriculture and hunting are prohibited within the reserve,
and access is restricted. No commercial logging has taken place within
the reserve itself, and few people have lived there since villages were
relocated in the 1940s prior to establishment. Traditional hunting rights
are allowed and hunting is heavily practised, but the use of non-traditional
hunting methods needs to be controlled. The Dja River forms a natural
boundary round much of the reserve, and there are currently three guard
posts to the east and north-west. Two new posts are in the process of
being established to the north and north-west but surveillance and management
is inadequate (Bedel et al., 1987). Since establishment
of the reserve in 1950, management has been restricted to protection of
the resources, and in particular anti-poaching activities; however, there
is little infrastructure and few staff, which means that there is currently
little effective management. This is not at present a problem because
of the relatively low level of threat, but may well become so. A provisional
management plan for the proposed national park has been prepared at the
Ecole de Faune at Garoua (van der Zon et al., 1986) which discusses
further this and other problems and outlines possible solutions. Dja is
one of the sites identified by IUCN/WWF Project 1613 (which aims to further
the conservation of primates and tropical rain forest) as important for
primate and rain forest conservation in West Africa.
CONSTRAINTS Cocoa, coffee and subsistence plots encroach onto the
reserve, particularly on the northern and western borders, and poaching
occurs. According to Gartlan and Agland (1982) the traditional hunting
methods of the pygmies are being superseded, and the pygmies are tending
towards a more sedentary life. This may cause problems in the future,
and will need to be closely monitored. However, Bedel et al.
(1987) stress the importance of hunting to the livelihood of the local
population and of establishing local associations to monitor hunting pressure.
The reserve has been subject to mineral exploitation in the past but no
exploitable deposits were located within its boundaries. However, further
investigation is being made on calcareous bodies on the south-east border
of the reserve and this may lead to open-cast mining for cement production.
Perhaps of more current concern is the possible routing of the Trans-African
highway close to the southern boundary of the reserve (undated information).
threats to biodiversity in Cameroon come from deforestation and poaching.
Larege-scale commercial logging has been encouraged by the government
and low prices for cocoa and coffee has made sales of bushmeat more important
to local people (Alpert, 1993). New logging roads and and concessions
are resulting in forest clearance right up to the boundary. Logging is
mainly by international companies, provides few benefits to local people,
and currently is practiced in an ecologically unsustainable manner. The
logging roads are facilitating access to Dja by poachers and there are
increasing reports of heavy poaching inside the park. Employees of one
logging company threatened park guards with violence when they were apprehended
taking poached wildlife (IUCN, 1997).
The protection staff of the reserve at present consists of a warden and
seven guards based at Messamena (although the warden still lives some
50km from the reserve) (undated information).
Annual budget is reported to be around 1.5 million FCA to cover staffing
costs, and some 30 million FCA is likely to be made available during 1987
for construction of administrative buildings and staff accommodation.
du Programme Dja, Ministere de l'Environment et des Fôrets, Yaoundé
(Tel (237) 23-92-32).
P. (1993) Conserving biodiversity in Cameroon. Ambio 12(1): 44-49.
Bousquet, B and Gourlet, S. (1987). Réserve Biosphère
du Dja. Report to the Government of Cameroun and Unesco/MAB by the
Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural des Eaux et des Forêts (Montpellier).
Eko (1982). Rapport de stage: étude monographique de la Réserve
du Dja. Ecole pour la formation de spécialistes de la faune, Garoua.
J.S. and Agland, P.C. (1980). A Proposal for a Program of Rainforest
Conservation and National Park Development in Cameroon, West Central
Africa. Report presented to the Gulf Oil Corporation and Société
Nationale Elf Aquitaine.
State of conservation of natural World Heritage properties. Report
prepared for the World Heritage Bureau, 21st session, UNESCO,
Paris, 23-28th June. 7pp.
R. (1968). Etudes phytogeographiques au Cameroun. Editions Paul
(1984). Projet pilote MAB de recherche écologique dans la réserve
forestière et de faune du Dja (projet MAB RFD), Yaoundé.
T.E. (1975). Report on the Reserve du Faune du Dja. University
of California, Berkeley. Department of Zoology.
Zon, A.P.M. and Jean Nkemi à Tchie Dong à Echiké
(1986). Le Parc National du Dja, Cameroun: Plan d'aménagement provisoire.
Ecole de Faune, BP 271, Garoua, Cameroun.
1613. International - Primate Action Fund.
June 1987, updated May 1990, August 1997.