Diversity, Ecology and conservation of Amphibians in the Proposed Ebo Forest National Park (Littoral-Cameroon)

Pauline Theophile Tchockang

Amphibians constitutes an interesting group from a phylogenetic point of view. The Afro-tropical region shows a great diversity and high degree of endemism. Cameroon has about 200 species among which 53% are threatened and endemic. Many studies have been carried out in Cameroon (Hirschfeld et al., 2016; Portik et al., 2016). However, these studies mostly concern areas of the Volcanic Line of Cameroon. The coastal forest ecoregion confined to Nigeria, Bioko and Cameroon is highly diversified (Olson et al., 2001). Within this ecoregion, only a handful of intact forest landscapes now exists, such as the Ebo forest (Potapov et al., 2017). Ebo forest has a particular biogeographic importance because it is delimited by two large river barriers: the Sanaga river and the Cross river hence its particular status of «centre of diversification and endemism of biodiversity». Ebo forest harbours a rich biodiversity marked by iconic species of mammals (Morgan et al., 2003; Oates, 2011), avian and anuran (Whytock et al., 2018; Dahmen, 2013). Despite its high diversity, Ebo forest is under several threats including habitat loss, agriculture, logging and hunting (Mahmoud et al., 2019). Due to his proximity from Douala, Yaoundé and Edéa (cities that support the marketing of bushmeat) it’s a powerful engine of depletion of this biodiversity (Morgan et al., 2011). Ebo was partially attributed to some palm-oil production which increase the threat to his biodiversity with amphibians in the frontline.

Despite conservation efforts provided by some NGOs, amphibians especially remain unprotected and constitute the most vulnerable group within vertebrates (IUCN, 2021). Reports provided by Hirschfeld et al., 2011 and Dahmen (2013) in the Northen part of Ebo forest shown some amphibians having a conservation interest. However, there is a lack of data on diversity, distribution, ecology and threats towards various taxa of amphibians particularly those from Afro tropical areas including Ebo forest. Hence it is important to conduct further research at other sites located in south of Ebo in order to provide a check list of amphibian species, but also to highlight their ecology and to propose an updated conservation status particularly for species listed as DD by the IUCN. At the end of field sessions, education and awareness- raising activities could be carried out in several villages adjacent to the Ebo forest aimed to educate the communities about the importance of amphibians and also implement the conservation action.

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