ERuDeF’S PROJECTS MARVEL 8 FRENCH ECOTOURISTS
Some 8 ecotourists from a French Sustainable Development Non-profit Organization, Maisons Du Monde, who recently embarked on a 12 day nature/cultural discovery tour to Cameroon, have been amazed by the magnitude of projects, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF, is carrying out in the Tofala area.
After visiting ERuDeF project sites in Tofala and actively involving in project promotional activities like local wildlife postcards production with students and pupils of school environmental clubs in Bechati, planting of some agroforestry trees species to conserve the major source of portable water in Bechati, donation of books to school libraries of some Tofala forest adjacent communities, biomonitoring apes/monitoring camera traps to acquire data that will help in establishing trends of wildlife species in the area, participating in local soap production and visiting the Besali Oil Mill, these ecotourists could not hide their feelings;
“I am really impressed by the good work ERuDeF is doing in this area to help conserve the rainforest and its biodiversity. We watched the project documentaries and have also gone through the different projects. Their effort is commendable” said Stephanie Cutourier, one of the ecotourists
ERuDeF’s conservation action in the Tofala rainforest is another area that thrilled the French ecotourists. “Apart from the nests, feeding signs, dung etc of chimpanzees and gorillas, which we recorded during biomonitring, we saw heart chimpanzees and saw how they were shaking trees so many metres away from us, while some of us were lucky to see a monkey. We also monitored some camera traps that ERuDeF biomonitors set up in the rainforest and were excited when we saw many primates like Chimpanzees, bush cats, monkeys etc but this excitement lessened when all of a sudden we saw two hunters with guns in the trap” Jennifer Pichard, the Coordinator of the team said. This according to Pichard, is an indication that “ERuDeF’s action is more than ever necessary to protect the primates”.
Barreau Sophie, just like Perrin Virginie, was very elated by ERuDeF conservation education and tree planting effort. “I think ERuDeF is doing a lot to sensitize the younger once on the importance of conservation. We were very happy working with the children to produce poscrads….the song the school children also sang to welcome us to their schools for the book donation was a nice one too” they confessed.
The presence of these ecotourists in the Tofala area was greeted with lots of ecstasy by administrative authorities
At the divisional headquarter in Mnji, The Senior Divisional Officer of Lebialem, Kouemo Simon , welcome the French ecotourists seeing their visit as a way of bringing his division to the lime light both nationally and internationally. He said the visit of the French ecotourists will make the local population understand that government’s reasons to gazette the Proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary is to make the division an ecotourism destination.
“The Tofala forest has some species of monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees that are endemic to the area and lovers of nature or researchers on any wildlife be it plants or animals will not be disappointed visiting this area and If we can have more and more ecotourists coming into this area, it will be a very great thing for the local population because ecotourism has very high job potentials” the SDO added
In the Bechati village, these ecotourists were welcome traditional and cultural manifestations where they danced alongside the villagers. The traditional ruler of Bechati also welcomed them into his village counting the visit as a blessing to him and his community. “We are proud of the forest and very much happy when people like you leave your country to come and research in our forests. This means that the forest has started yielding dividend to my community”. He said.
From the Tofala area, these ecotourists visited the Center for the Blind, and an artifact centre in Dschang where they bought African souvenirs for family and love once. Other areas visited in Cameroon included the Ekon-ekam water fall in Melong, the Tsaben beach in Limbe the, and Limbe Wildlife Centre.
At the end of the trip, ERuDeF IVP Logistic Coordinator thanked the ecotourists for their contribution in enhancing the goal of the organization and for choosing Cameroon and ERuDeF as a destination for their working holiday. He hoped that the visit will serve as the beginning of a long term relationship with Maisons Du Monds adding that the door of the organization is opened to anyone of them wanting to visit Cameroon again.