As part of our research and preparation for the next Tropical Forest exhibit opening in 2015, Ben and I are traveling to Cameroon to learn about the ecology and culture of the region. We will be covering a lot of land between June 9th – 29th, and updating the blog when we can with posts and images of our travels. Check out the itinerary tab above to read where our journey will take us!
The western section of Cameroon makes up part of the coastal lowlands of West Africa, noted by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot. The eastern section is part of the tropical rainforests of the Congo River basin. The Congo River is the world’s third largest river, and the basin and surrounding rainforests make up the second largest rainforest expanse in the world. The Congo River basin is extremely rich in biodiversity, and has one of the highest counts of species found nowhere else on the planet. We will be spending time in Lobéké National Park, a large area of pristine rainforest, and a good place to spot the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), which relies on the unique tropical habitat of the Congo River basin. The map below is a good representation of the natural vegetation cover of Africa.
Cameroon’s eastern forests are home to many Baka and Bantu communities, living off of the rich natural resources of the region. Ben and I look forward to spending time in these communities and learning to track through the forest, collect medicinal plants and honey, and prepare traditional remedies. In the west, we will meet up with the Bamileke and Bamun communities, which are known for their agriculture and craftsmanship and have a long history of living in the region. We will travel to the coastal mountain ranges, which include some of the last endemic forests along the Gulf of Guinea, and Ekom Nkam Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Africa (and also happens to be the filming location for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes).
We look forward to a lot of hiking, and a lot of learning! Follow us on our travels as we post updates and photos!