Wednesday, 29 October 2014


I am called Israel Bionyi Nyoh, “Chef” is my maiden name I earned in Madagascar during the explore Youth Volunteer programme. I took part in the programme between the 31st of April and 30th June, 2014. I am now pursuing to finish my Masters degree in Communication mean while very actively involved in product content management at the University of Douala. I am also enthusiastically occupied in writing articles for my blog (The Wink writes )and freelancing for the standard Tribune News Paper (Cameroonian Weekly news paper) and Tunza Eco-generation (UNEPs Youth Network)  respectively.

Why did I chose to Join WWF Explore Programme?

Before applying for Explore programme, I had founded an environmental blog called; The Wink Writes. I used this blog to struggle against poaching and unearthed important conservation stories about forest and poaching in my country Cameroon and other countries in the Congo Basin whose rich biodiversity and forest is gradually degrading.

2014 First Placement team with Bekeloka Women after a Focus Group meeting
I told myself, to actually know what conservation is all about, to be able to evangelize well about our planet, why not work for conservation to discover: what it is that matter to conservation scientists? What is it that the scientists do to keep our earth safe? What is it that matter in the conservation discourse? Then, after close to two months of deep reflections and searching, I then decided, I will work for WWF in order to study all I needed to know, then in turn spread my know how to Cameroon, Africa and why not the rest of the world. Explore volunteer programme was the best opening to study and work at the same time.

But, that was not my strong hold or the veritable motivation for my decision. In 2013, when 300 elephants were massacred at the Bouba NdjIda National Park in the North Region of Cameroon, by Janjaweed Gun men from Sudan, WWF handled the matter with such maturity and their lobby actions with the government enabled 600 Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalions (BIR)  to be stationed there to guard the area. It is from that moment that my thoughts and force to work for WWF was exploded. I become more and more determined to work for WWF via explore programme.

You learn, explore and enjoy!

Soa Aina, Colleague from Antananarivo

Like Aina Soa, believes “living an eco-responsible life, in a rich biodiversity is something I respected very much, there is certainly more than enough to learn”.

You learn so many things in the group or with your team: cultures, good ways, language, stories, lifestyle, and professionalism. “To take note of the details in every little work we do”. Navi thought me that. Live with passion altering all challenges in to fun bringing smile at even the worst moments: Greegg and Enathe.
Navi Smith-Canada, Gregg Smith-UK and Enathe Hasabwe-Rwanda in an adventure to Besambay

Samson, Auguste, Mark, Birisoa, Zafi, Adoré… the list is long are the villagers from whom I particularly learned great fishing techniques, secrets of leading a successful life and selflessness. What I so much admired about these people is their time and energy they confined for conservation. Although we came from far far away, they welcomed us with a blossom of hospitality and generosity.
Auguste-Beheloka, Marlies Volckaert-Belgium and Soa Aina-Antananarivo, piloting a pirogue and filming nature.
Just like Milton Munang, I will say “WWF youth volunteer programme is a life time experience and a great opportunity for youths with great passion for conservation and the environment to develop personal multi dimensional skills necessary for community development. The program offers a multicultural and multinational atmosphere, high standards of job practice, which completely change the vision and mentality of every attendee.”
Gregg, chating with Children of Beheloka, after helping to clean their public toilet with them.
I will encourage youths from Cameroon and every parts of the world to attain this programme. It nurture, matures and ready you to live a great life in harmony with our planet earth.

“Use your talents and you are well paid”
Special Veloma from Malalatina

There is always something special to take home from Madagascar, be it from the WWF staffs or from the villages where you do your volunteer work.

We were the second volunteers she was receiving at her home.  She made us special “jaranga” meat, wonderful meals with a lot of fruit juice. Her husband and her three boys received us on the 29th of June 2014 with a lot of humour. “It is small, our home is like an office come in” that is how we were welcomed that very special night.
Malalatina, always energetic  at the Tsimanampetsotse Lake

 “Use your talents and you are well paid… plant, redistribute where you always take” her husband advised us to be reciprocal and useful in all what we do in life, but we must be able to sell everywhere we go, because life is all about selling.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


  By Israel Bionyi

Since 2012, the government of Cameroon have been concentrating a great portion of their time and resources to fight Boko Haram, Floods and corruption.

Climate change situation in Cameroon-Africa credit UNESCO
 Since 2012, Cameroon’s climate change efforts is suffering from three important crises which almost completely tilted the attention of Cameroonian leaders and other NGOs towards them.
The increase in rainfalls in 2012 and 2013 caused heavy floods in the North West, Far North and North Regions of Cameroon, caused a lot of hardships and untold sufferings to the residents. In all the regions, the floods have left many people injured, houses, farms and properties destroyed, leaving about 25,100 people homeless. The 2013 UNICEF reports say most of these people have sought refuge with host families, but 5,000 remain homeless (1,026 families). The World Bank granted a loan of 54 billion francs CFA ($113 million) in 2013 for emergency works against flash floods in the Far North Region and the Cameroon government also created 20 billion francs CFA ($42 million) fund to fight natural disasters, to be managed by the then Interior ministry after the 2012 floods.

Fig1 and2; Visualizing a Warming Africa. The North and Far North Regions of Cameroon Risks Floods and Food Failures in future Credit: Laura Canali & Connect4Climate, 2013

Apart from floods, Cameroon spends more than 2355 Billion francs CFA ($471 million) in the military each year since 2011. The amount has increased with the Boko Haram insurgence in 2013. Boko Haram has abducted more than 25 people from Cameroon including the Wife of the Vice Prime Minister, Amadou Ali, and about 17 expatriates or foreigners, since 2013. Reports say the government spends massive sums as much as $3million to release some of the captives. It is not only the money that is invested, time –is- too. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Minister of Communications, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, has orgarnised about 10 press conferences to inform the public or to bring calmness to the situation. In his latest release on Tuesday September 10, 2014, he said “Cameroon’s military has killed 100 Boko Haram militants…”. The president of the Republic is not left aside; he too is immensely involved in the fight. He has been championing all the negotiations to liberate some foreign expatriates. He lately waged war against Boko Haram, then, assured the population by saying “Boko haram will not be more than us” in a press interview on the 4th of August 2014 at the Nsimalen airport. 

Just like Cameroon spends billions of francs CFA to fight the aforementioned crisis, she spends even more and losses more on corruption. Since 2005, Cameroon has created about 5 gadgets to fight corruption: ANIF, CONAC and The special Criminal court of Justice for Corruption being amongst the most popular. Cameroon invests a considerable amount on all these gadgets to fight corruption. But this has not stopped people from looting huge sums of money or the police man from collecting by force, illegally 500 francs CFA ($1) from Taxi drivers on the road every day. The country is still among the most corrupt countries in the World, classified 144, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Index.

In a bright and sustainable perspective, all these huge sums, time and energy could be invested into a must fight reality that has come to live with us, climate change. Climate change experts believe 20% of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) come from deforestation. It is the leading source of emissions in the developing world. A recent report by the US non-governmental organization, Forest Trends, says 49% of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. . According to the FAO the annual average deforestation rate in Cameroon is around 1% per year equivalent to a loss of around 200,000 ha per year.

 The IPCC Report indicates that “Without more mitigation, global mean surface temperature might increase by 3.7° to 4.8°Cover the 21st century”. For Cameroon, the IPCC 4th Assessment Report had already indicated a possible rise in sea levels with 15 % increase in rainfall by the year 2100 which would likely decrease the penetration of salt water in the Wouri estuary.
A new World Bank estimate shows that between 2009 and 2013, Cameroon pumped up four percent more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases than in previous years. According to the estimates, Cameroon contributed up to 45.4% of all emissions in the six-nation CEMAC sub-region that makes up part of the Congo Basin.

However, Cameroon has been engaged in international negotiations on REDD since 2005 and is an active member of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) and the Working Group on Climate Change. Within this context Cameroon has contributed to the preparation and communication of five Congo Basin country submissions to the UNFCCC that helped to highlight the role of forest degradation and sustainable forest management in the REDD discussions. In its proposal Cameroon supports a two phased approach, with funds and markets, a historical reference emission level with development adjustment factors and national and sub-national implementation.

Cameroon is a member of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) programme and successfully submitted its R-PIN to the FCPF in July 2008. In November 2010, after a year of discussions with the World Bank, the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection (MINEP) received a USD 200,000 grant for R-PP elaboration. If the R-PP is submitted and accepted by the FCPF, Cameroon will be eligible to a further USD 3.4 million for its implementation. Cameroon is also engaged with the EU FLEGT process to combat illegal logging. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the EU and Cameroon was signed in May 2010 and which went into effect two months ago. Because of that, in April, 2014 the implementation of the Law against the production of Non Bio Non degradable plastics debuted effectively.
In 2012, Cameroon cancelled the licenses of 27 forest exploiters because of unsustainable and illegal logging. With the collaboration of WWF, about 19 logging companies in Cameroon are now applying the FSC regulations on their wood.

With 13% of the forest gone, Cameroonian officials should start thinking of best means to curb forest degradation and equally putting an eye on development which brings the emission. It is entirely possible to fight climate change, individuals of all classes in all countries be it a Lawyers, Entrepreneurs, politicians, Bankers, Journalist, Farmer… The fight is our fight, it is something that threatens the happiness and existence of everybody and their entire families. It should stop to be the thing of government Ministers, researchers and science journalists. We need a great political will and a collective effort especially Africans who are found in a heavy risk zone. We all need to curb and control consumption of certain products that its fabrication contributes massively to the emission of GHGs.


13 Universities 20+ NGOs and 3 Ministries power conservation Education in Cameroon

Pupils studying different kinds of animal species at the Limbe Wild Life Centre credit Limbe Wild Life Centre
 By Israel Bionyi

From all indications Education in Cameroon is the most valuable tool which promotes growth and development. The most recent UNDP Human Development Indicator (HDI) for 2013 together with the Worlds Bank’s country report 2013 indicates Cameroon has reached 111% in her primary school education. This explains why more than 78% of the 23 Million people are considered educated.

Having education is one thing and having conservation knowledge is another. CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) discovered that in 41 REED+ Projects in Asia, Africa and the South America, 1500 jobs were created but 80% of Applicants were not qualified. This observation was made in an E-debate organized by CIFOR at the Forest Summit in Asia, May 2014. Many people go to schools obtain generic diplomats with less interest on Conservation studies. Among the 5000-10 000 graduates that leave Cameroonian Universities every year less than 5% of them come out with a qualification in conservation.

There are 38 Universities in Cameroon amongst which 8 states owned Universities. According to recent classifications from 4international College and Universities, (Online portal for graduates an youths) The state Universities figure among the best (University of Dschang, University of Yaoundé II Soa,University of  Douala,  University of  Yaoundé I,  University of Ngaoundéré, University of Maroua, Universityof Buea and University of Bamenda). All state Universities in Cameroon have either a school or a department of science which usher’s environmental and conservation studies. The most popular programmes in all the state universities include: Animal Biology, Zoology, Biochemistry, Environmental studies, microbiology and earth science.

The University of Bamenda has a more structured programme on environmental studies which goes right deep into touching specific areas such as tropical fisheries, mammalian ecology, Wildlife Habitat Management and Avian Ecology. State Universities retain between 40 to 80 students per programme each yeah. The lecturers are either recruited by the Ministry of Higher Education or The Universities themselves. More than 70% of lecturers at the State Universities are recruited by the state. In most of the cases the Minister of Higher Education often launch an open recruitment and seek for proposals from the University.

For Private Education, there are 30 private Universities in Cameroon with the most popular being catholic and protestant Universities. 5 out of 30 private universities offer environmental or conservation studies they include: The Higher Institute of Environmental Sciences (HIES); Pan African University of West Africa-Environment and agricultural development (MSc); Catholic University of Central Africa-Geography and Environmental Studies; Bamenda University of Science and Technology-Agronomy and Soil Science and Animal Science and Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERUDEF)-Environmental programme. HIES and ERUDEF go as far as offering studies in  conservation policy and Conservations communications the Institutes also involve in youth trainings and sensitization in schools.

The Ministries and NGOs liaising to come into play

Ministry of Forestry and Wild Life, West Regional Office, Powering conservation Education
The Ministries of forestry and Wild Life and the Ministry of The Environment in collaboration with other partners and NGOs are working to see into it that Cameroonians take cog naissance on how they could live in harmony with nature without destroying it. The two ministries jointly power two important schools: The National School of Waters and Forests of Cameroon and the Institute of Faune in Garoua. These schools train forest controllers, forest experts, guards, and administrators. Flavien Ngibaot is one of the Graduates from The National School of Waters and Forests of Cameroon; he is now the National Brigade Commander for forestry control operations in the Ministry of Forestry and Wild Life. He is the main man behind the fight against illegal exploitation of the Bibinga tree and the campaign against wild Life poaching in the Littoral region. Under his command, the ministry has ceased thousands of wild animals, guns and finned irrational logging companies. The Ministries also supports environmental awareness raising magazines every year. Examples of such Magazines Include: “Les defenseurs de L’environnement” (The Defenders of the Environment) “Le Selviculteur” (The Forester) Magazine and “Lettre Verte” (The Green Letter) produced by the Ministry of Forestry and Wild Life.

 “Restructuring measures taken since 2012 have been strengthened and are already bearing fruits” said the Minister of forestry and wild Life Ngole Philip Ngwese, in the Ministry’s The Green Letter Magazine No 28 of June 2013. The minister also added that the fight against illegal exploitation of forest and wild life is now witnessing progress. Thanks to the various sensitization efforts. In 2012, The Ministry of Forestry and Wild Life in Collaboration with The IUCN and the Wildlife Conservation Society introduced a new course: Management of Protected Species in Central Africa at the University Teaching Complex of Dr. Alphonse Mackanga Missandzou, situated north of Lope National Park in Gabon. This programme trained and graduated 15 laureates on the 22nd of December 2014. Amongst them, 4 were Cameroonians with three from the Ministry of Forestry and wildlife.

There is an estimate of 20 NGOs that promote conservation education in Cameroon amongst them we can name: UNICEF, CIFOR, WWF, GEF, UNDP, CIDI, TRAFFIC, ICENECDEV (The International Centre for Environmental Education and Community Development) SHUMAS (Strategic Humanitarian Services in Cameroon), Plan International, Wild Life Conservation Society (WCS), Green Cameroon ENRUDEF (Environment and Rural Development Foundation) ZSL (London Zoological Society) and LAGA (The Last Great Ape Organization, Cameroon). These organizations organize sensitization campaigns, competitions and events in Primary secondary and Tertiary schools sponsor Youth Magazines and offer conservation books to libraries, scholarships and trainings to students and pupils to follow the light of conservation.

We can point out WWF Central Africa Programme’s promising effort on Conservation Education in Cameroon. Through their Youth Strategy and the Youth Volunteer and scholarship programmes, WWF have since 2011 offered more than 10 Cameroonians International Internships and more than 4 scholarships at the level of Higher Education. Their efforts are saluted by many Cameroonian including me; I will encourage the government and other organizations to follow their example.


By Israel Bionyi

The Illegal Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn TRAFFIC report for 2014 recommends sophisticated technologies and law enforcement techniques in African sea and airports to fight against poaching and Illegal Traffic.

Lagos International sea port, the largest sea port in West and Central Africa one of the different port of Transit for rhino horn and Ivory
 Despite all the heavy trade band pressure sounded on some Asian Countries, the trade in Ivory and Rhino horn still remains very fluid. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) announced in July 2014 serious trade sanctions on Thailand and Bangkok, if they don’t regularize their Ivory sector which sparks a lot of poachers.

TRAFFIC say it has since January 2014 recorded 18,747 Ivory seizure cases and 2,083 non Ivory elephant products and most of the Traffic is done via the sea and at the airports at time. With the Container shipping business representing the greatest  menace for the fight against this trade with less than 5% the ports applying the CITES law enforcement action for all containers entering and leaving the ports. In August 2013, The Guardian UK reported China seized a shipment of illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3m (£3.4m) from Nigeria. They media adds “authorities at Hong Kong's port confiscated 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins weighing a total of 2,266 kilograms (4,997 pounds)”

Rhino horns, Ivory and Leopard skins Seized in from a Nigerian Container at the Port of Hong Kong in August 2013. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA
Tracing the routes of this illegal trade,  TRAFFIC points out, from 2000 through 2008 there have been significant export activity spring from Atlantic Ocean seaports in Central and West Africa, particularly Douala (Cameroon), Lagos (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana), and from Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to Belgium by air. These sea and airports are used because they lack expensive technical equipment such as cargo scanner machines that can scan containers, dogs’ sniffers system and sophisticated Xrays.

Even though optimistic about the African the Future of African port systems, The Managing Director of the Douala Port Authority; Josué Youmba admits the Douala port needs to step up.  In a release published last week on the Douala Port Authority’s website, he said “Formerly, government was in charge of all port operations. But since the 1999 port reforms the management of some of these port operations were privatized. Unfortunately some of the private companies managing some of the activities have not been investing to match their equipments with the evolution of the volume of traffic at the port.”

“Movements of ivory within Africa involved a great number of countries, and considerable trafficking between Sudan and Egypt, a major unregulated ivory market within Africa that is far removed from any elephant populations, was also evident. On Africa’s east coast, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique also emerge in this period as exporters of ivory from the African continent. South Africa, however, is the most prominent country owing to one exceptional 7.1 tonne movement of ivory from Malawi through the port of Durban to Singapore, and then reportedly for onward shipment to Japan” says Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC scientist.He adds that China has replaced Japan as World’s Number one in the trade, the highest end market

The Routes of Traffic in Ivory and Rhino Horn from Africa to other parts of the World Credit, TRAFFIC

.“There have been years without any real action on the ground when it comes to controlling the illegal ivory market,” said Oeystein Stoerkersen, chairman of CITES’s governing body during the CITES conference in Geneva of July 2014. His organization has set Thailand an August 2015 deadline to respect regulations or Face severe sanctions.

WWF leaked this year that Current Thai law allows ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold, making it simple to dry-clean poached African ivory. WWF analyst, Colman O’Criodain who was also participant at the CITES Summit in Geneva said “Thailand’s market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants,”

The latest traffic report for 2014 released last month say 72% of Central Africa’s Elephant population has been wiped over the last 12 years. And the Tanzanian Selous Game Reserve has lost 57,000 from the 70,000 animals that were left in 2007, 68.6% in 7 years time. This represents an enormous loss for Africa whose Rhino and elephant population continue to shrink. The report also identifies the trade estimated to USD 5 - 20 billion per year.

TRAFFIC also demands more judicial actions to be taken on those who are apprehended doing this trade. It decries only 9 of the 78 cases registered since 2009 by the TRAFFIC's Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) have been trialed.

But not all hopes are gone. There is good news for African governments who needs to deploy massive financial and human efforts to fight this Illegal trade. Since June 2014, UNEP has identified High-tech equipments, cheap and sustainable methods that can counter poaching efforts without requiring armies of rangers or risking lives. They include: acoustic traps, mobile technology, mikrokopters, radio frequency identification tags, encrypted data digital networks, camera traps, DNA testing, radio collars, metal scanners, and satellite imagery. Well elaborated on UNEP's Website.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Protecting Elephants could Encourage Forest Growth in the Central African Region

Central Africa need elephants to increase her Oxygen and food productivity hence, fight climate change.

Today the forest in the Central African region is disappearing very fast. “Between 1990 and 2000, approximately 91,000 km2 of forests were lost. That represents an area about 3 times the size of Belgium”.
The significant deforestation and the decline in the elephant populations is having enormous impacts on the biodiversity of the region. In Cameroon where, I base my research, 13% of the forest has already gone (between 1990 and 2005) and the Central African region has lost 60% of its elephant population to poaching in the last 10 Years (Maisels et Al. 2013).
         Elephants spread almost all the trees at the Bouba Ndjida national park in Cameroon
 The CITES MIKE Programme says, The Central African Region is the highest zone to have recorded illegal elephant killings, since 2002 comparatively to other zones of observation in Africa. In 2013, Cameroon experienced the massacre of 400 elephants in the Bouba Ndjida National park.

There are only 90 000 to 150 000 elephants now left in the Central African Region. This remark is drawn from comparing different reports about African elephants from: IUCN, CITES, African Elephant Specialist Group, Elephant Trade Information system (ETIS) and the Elephant Database.

"A few trees are declining because elephant disappear is of course detrimental- have massive impact on the forest ecosystem. However, elephants going extinct means that the competitive balance of many many species, arguably over 100 in central Africa will be tipped in favor of species poor idiotically” Highlights of Blake and Campos-Arceiz ,authors of a paper on African and Asian elephant seed dispersal in Acta Oecologica.
Elephant dung germinating plants in the Ntem forest of Cameroon
 Elephants are termed by IUCN and WWF as ecologically important species, which play a vital role in supporting other species and ecosystems. Elephants have a great seed nursing and transportation potential, necessary for forests growth. The heavy weight land Mammals are among the greatest seed dispersers of the earth, findings confirmed by recent studies from scientists. 

Seed dispersal, ecologists believe is the movement or transport of seeds away from the parent plant through biotic (living things) or abiotic vectors. Elephants are biotic vectors and transport thousands of seeds through their digestive system and send the seeds out through their guts.
The dung then serves as incubator for the seeds to germinate absorbing Water; heat and other gases like CO2 it may need for its survival. 

Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, believes ‘African forest elephants are the ultimate seed dispersers’ and confirms they disperse seeds in the most efficient way.

From the ecological perspective, scientists argue that elephants are very important for forest growth because they spread seeds hundreds of kilometers away from the mother plant. The more their population and habitat increase the greater the forest expansion. Elephants in the Congo are able to spread seeds as far as 57 kilometers (35.4 miles) from the mother plant.
20 percent of global warming is caused by deforestation. If REDD+ the UN programme for reforestation, could join forces with the governments of the Central African (CA ) Region and other NGOs to stop deforestation and poaching, then that will be an impulsive solution to fight against climate change. 

Why not food security? “Forest and tree ecosystems underpin the provision of a range of services, and as such, when appropriately managed, can make vital contributions to food production”. Says Foli et al, in their Environmental Evidence paper 2014. The paper also added the land productivity “depends on pollinator diversity.” it estimates 46 per cent of total agricultural land still retains at least 10 per cent tree cover.

But before that, they have to empower the government by helping to eradicate corruption. According to Transparency International’s CPI for 2013, there is likely to be high level of deforestation and logging in countries where governance is weak and vice versa. Most of the Countries in the CA zone are among the most corrupt countries in the world.