Saxophone player Manu Dibango dies from coronavirus

This 2015 music video says about itself:

Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango (Original)

Soul Makossa meaning: “I will dance.”

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Saxophonist and bandleader Manu Dibango has died from the effects of the coronavirus. The 86-year-old musician from Cameroon was best known for the worldwide hit Soul Makossa from 1972. The chorus ‘mama-sé, mama-sa, mama kossa’ was used in 1983 by Michael Jackson in Wanna Be Startin ‘Somethin’. That chorus was also used in 2007 by Rihanna in the song Don’t Stop the Music.

Manu Dibango died in a hospital in Paris.

How much rainforest do African birds need?

This 2012 video from Ghana shows a Blue-headed Bee-eater, a native to African rainforests.

From the University of Göttingen in Germany:

How much rainforest do birds need?

January 22, 2019

Researchers of the Department of Conservation Biology at the University of Göttingen have carried out research in Southwest Cameroon to assess which proportion of forest would be necessary in order to provide sufficient habitat for rainforest bird species. The results of the study were published in the journal Biological Conservation.

The Göttingen team investigated relationships between forest cover and bird species richness using data from a 4,000 km2 large rainforest landscape. The study area contains protected areas as well as smallholder agroforestry systems and industrial oil palm plantations. The study documents minimum thresholds of forest cover in farmland below which original bird communities begin to change and where they are already dominated by species which don’t depend on forest. The data suggest that forest cover ought not to fall below 40 percent if drastic losses in original bird species are to be avoided. Importantly, the study also shows that highly specialised bird species already start to decline significantly when the percentage of forest dips to as much as 70 percent; at these forest cover levels, these birds are beginning to be replaced by “generalists”, ie birds that are at home in different habitats.

“The threshold values we are discussing here should play a role in defining strategies for conservation in tropical forest landscapes”, says Denis Kupsch, first author of the study. This is particularly important because the pressure to use agricultural land intensively is constantly increasing in tropical regions. “It would therefore make sense for land-use planning and legislation in the future to be geared more to such limits in order to achieve a sustainable coexistence of industrial agricultural production, smallholder agriculture and protected area management.” According to the authors, smallholder agricultural forest systems in particular, which represent a near-natural cultivated landscape and at the same time preserve a high proportion of natural forest, could play a significant role in this.

Cameroon military tortures innocent children as ‘anti-terrorism’

This video says about itself:

Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers: Fotokol

19 July 2017

Amnesty International has collected evidence of over a hundred cases of illegal detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Cameroonian citizens falsely accused of supporting or being a member of Boko Haram, at around twenty sites across the country.

Using testimony and information supplied by Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture reconstructed two of these facilities – a regional military headquarters and an occupied school – in order to confirm and illustrate the conditions of incarceration and torture described by former detainees.

Read more here.

From Amnesty International:

Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture
20 July 2017, 00:01 UTC

• Detainees subjected to severe beatings, agonising stress positions and drownings, with some tortured to death

• Widespread torture at 20 sites, including four military bases, two facilities run by intelligence services, a private residence and a school

• Calls for US and other international partners to investigate their military personnel’s possible knowledge of torture at one base

Hundreds of people in Cameroon accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, are being brutally tortured by security forces, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

Using dozens of testimonies, corroborated with satellite imagery, photographic and video evidence, the report ‘Cameroon’s secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram’ documents 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017, at over 20 different sites.

“We have repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the atrocities and war crimes committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon. But, nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“These horrific violations amount to war crimes. Given the weight of the evidence we have uncovered, the authorities must initiate independent investigations into these practices of incommunicado detention and torture, including potential individual and command responsibility.”

Amnesty International wrote to the Cameroonian authorities in April 2017 to share the report’s findings, but no response was provided and all subsequent requests for meetings were refused …

The report also highlights the presence of US and French military personnel at the BIR base in Salak, and calls for these governments to investigate the extent to which their personnel stationed at Salak, or regularly visiting, may have been aware that illegal detention and torture was taking place on site.

Amnesty International delegates have directly observed French soldiers during one visit there, while more than a dozen former detainees held there between 2015 and 2016 said they saw and heard white, English-speaking men at the base, including some in military uniform. This has been confirmed by photographic and video evidence showing uniformed US personnel, some of whom are stationed there.

“Given the frequent and possibly prolonged presence of their military personnel, the US government and other international partners should investigate the degree to which their personnel were aware of illegal detention and torture at the Salak base, and whether they took any measures to report it to their hierarchy and the Cameroonian authorities,” said Alioune Tine.

Amnesty International wrote to the US and French Embassies in Cameroon on 23 June 2017, requesting further information about what their personnel knew and what was reported. The US Embassy responded on 11 July and their letter can be found in the report. No response was received from the French Embassy.

Cameroonian troops tortured and killed prisoners at base used for U.S. drone surveillance: here.

World Pangolin Day today

World Pangolin Day demonstrators in Cameroon

This photo shows World Pangolin Day demonstrators in Cameroon, Africa, today.

Here are 6 amazing pangolin facts you (probably) didn’t know.

Gorilla conservation in Cameroon

This video says about itself:

16 December 2009

This clip is the first professional video of the elusive and highly endangered Cross River gorilla. It is the world’s rarest great ape, numbering fewer than 300 individuals along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon.

From Wildlife Extra:

Gorillas benefit from new protection in Cameroon

Critically endangered Cross River Gorillas will be receiving much-needed additional protection in Cameroon with the creation of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in the southwest of the country.

The decree to officially create the sanctuary was signed by the Prime Minister of Cameroon, and will be the third such reserve in the country to protect the dwindling habitat of the Cross River Gorilla.

The gorillas in this region were only discovered relatively recently in the early 20th century, but following the Nigerian conflict during the 1960s it was feared that they had become a casualty of war and had become extinct. It was only during the 1980s that small groups of the Cross River Gorilla were rediscovered.

But their numbers in the wild have remained low in spite of conservation efforts. Living in the region of the Cross River, which flows from Cameroon to Nigeria and passes through rainforest, their habitat has become restricted to rugged highland areas where hunting pressure is lower.

Furthermore, the great apes’ habitat is surrounded by some of Africa’s most densely populated human settlements, and is become increasingly fragmented.

In order to tackle these threats to the gorilla, two reserves were set up by the Cameroon Government: the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary and Takamanda National Park. The addition of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary marks a further move in the right direction for the protection of the Cross River Gorilla.

Prior to the decree to create the sanctuary, the forest was under communal forest laws, which allowed land to be converted for use for anything other than forestry. Organisation Flora and Fauna International have been working toward the protection of the gorillas in the forest since 2004, and understand that the creation of Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary will impact upon local communities, so will be involving them in the sanctuary design and helping them to find sustainable ways to earn a living.

National park in Cameroon threatened

This video, recorded in Cameroon, says about itself:

19 November 2012

This was a collaboration project in the South West. Joe and I went in and around Bakossi and Manengouba National Parks for 9 days evaluating the feasibility of eco-tourism. This is part 1 of our trip.

From Birdlife:

BirdLife concerns over road construction through Bakossi National Park, Cameroon

By nairobi.volunteer, Mon, 28/04/2014 – 06:41

BirdLife is concerned that one of the most precious forests in Cameroon is threatened by road construction. Bakossi National Park is not only a site of great natural beauty but a globally important site for biodiversity conservation, identified as an Important Bird Area in 2001.

The park supports over 200 species of plants, amphibians and birds that are found nowhere else on earth and is hence categorised as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site. Bakossi Mountain Forests are home to the Endangered Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike Telophorus kupeensis, which is endemic to Cameroon.

Bakossi Forest Reserve was gazetted as a national Park in 2008, a wise decision by the Government of Cameroon, but the decision to construct a 15-metre wide road now threatens to roll back any conservation gains. Proponents say it will facilitate cultivation of cocoa in the Western part and enable villagers there to reach administrative offices to the northeast. BirdLife recognises the need to improve people’s ability to access services and rural development but this must be carefully balanced with the need to protect finite natural resources. Therefore, the justification of a road for the stated purpose should form part of an assessment as there are concerns that this road clearance is far wider than is needed and has already resulted in forest destruction.

Other concerns are based on the fact that an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment does not seem to have been conducted. Key stakeholders do not seem to be aware of this development.

BirdLife is concerned that such a wide road will permit much larger vehicles to pass through the park and is likely to lead to increased frequency of illegal logging and bush meat trade. It is already clear that the road is cutting through sensitive bird habitat, especially that of Mt Kupe Bush Shrike. These impacts will result in increased management costs to the Government and threaten the growing tourist industry in the area.

BirdLife calls for a temporary stop to the road construction within the national park to allow for a participatory Environmental and Social Impact Assessment to be carried and presented for public scrutiny. Protecting this key National Park will help ensure it remains a growing tourist destination.

Story by Ken Mwathe (

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Blind African refugee beaten up in Britain

This video from England says about itself:

Who killed Jimmy Mubenga? Protest outside G4S AGM, London 6 June 2013

By Ryan Fletcher in Britain:

Friday 11th April 2014

A disabled asylum-seeker told the Star yesterday that he was beaten by staff tasked to deliver him to Heathrow airport for deportation.

Alain Kouayep Tchatchue was delivered to Heathrow early on Saturday from nearby Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

Visually impaired Mr Tchatchue claimed that when he refused to board a flight to Cameroon, from which he fled because he is bisexual, he was attacked.

He alleged that the two staff responsible for taking him to the airport dragged him back to the transportation van, punched him repeatedly in the ribs and then left him in the van for over three hours with his hands and feet tied.

Mr Tchatchue claimed that the two staff told him “they were just doing their job.”

Speaking to the Star from the detention centre yesterday, he said: “I couldn’t see properly and was screaming ‘please help me.’

“They tied my feet together and handcuffed me. I could feel them putting pressure on my neck.

“They untied my feet after three hours but I was handcuffed for over four.”

Eventually Mr Tchatchue was returned to the detention centre after it was decided he was too ill to travel.

He has subsequently put in a complaint to the police, but said he was still suffering with mobility problems in his shoulder for which he has needed painkillers all week.

He told the Star: “I am very scared and upset. Even now I can’t sleep. This is a very difficult time in my life.”

Mr Tchatchue fled Cameroon after having a relationship with a man and said that reports about his sexuality had appeared in the local press there and he would be in danger if he was deported.

Manchester Metropolitan Church pastor Andy Braunston has been campaigning on Mr Tchatchue’s behalf.

He said: “Alain is a blind man who uses a white stick to get around and who has fled here because of fear of the violence of the state in Cameroon.”

The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office were unavailable for comment.

Britain: We musn’t lose the gains made by black workers over the last decade in an austerity-led backlash, says GLORIA MILLS: here.

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Saving African Grey and Timnah Parrots

This video from Cameroon is called African Grey Parrots in the Wild.

From BirdLife:

Paving the way to regional cooperation for African Grey and Timnah Parrots

By Mercy Kariuki, Fri, 01/11/2013 – 08:49

A major breakthrough for the conservation and management of the African Grey and Timneh parrots (Psittacus erithacus and P. timneh) was made recently, when representatives of five of the species’ range states gathered to discuss how to safeguard the future of the species.

In Monrovia, Liberia, participants representing the governments and BirdLife partner and collaborating organisations of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone came together as part of the project Strengthening Capacity for Monitoring and Regulation of International Trade in African Grey Parrot. This is the first move towards regional cooperation on the species since far-reaching CITES recommendations made in 2007 halved the export quota of DRC and placed a moratorium on exports from the other four countries. In the case of Cameroon the moratorium has since been lifted in 2012).

Popular in the international pet trade, African Grey and Timneh parrots are two of the most widely-traded species of bird in the world. The large number of individuals harvested from the wild is thought to threaten the long-term future of the species.

One of the main obstacles to a sustainable trade is the lack of a scientific basis on which to make management decisions, including the setting of export quotas. This workshop made an important step in addressing this need, by bringing these countries together to agree on how to monitor their parrot populations, and initiating the process of developing national management plans.

The workshop presented a new framework of methods for rapidly assessing wild African Grey Parrot populations, which was designed and tested for this project. Discussions followed on how these can be applied in practice in each of the countries, to improve understanding of the species’ status and trends, and in turn inform their conservation and management. The framework of methods was designed by Dr Stuart Marsden, Reader in Conservation Ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, who specialises in parrots and other tropical birds.

“These birds are particularly hard to survey in the wild, due to their flocking behaviour and preference for forest habitat. What we have done is to develop a standardised set of methods that can be put in place anywhere that African Greys are found, to monitor them in a reliable, easy, cost-effective way” Says Dr Marsden.

BirdLife partners and a collaborator tested out the various survey methods in the field in each of the five countries, simultaneously gathering valuable baseline data on population status, and laying the foundations for long-term monitoring efforts. The results highlighted a great variation in distribution, from relative local abundance in Cameroon’s Lobéké and Campo Ma’an National Parks, to almost complete absence in all surveyed sites in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Lukuru Foundation, operating out of their field sites in central DRC, joined the project as BirdLife’s collaborator on the ground in that country. Lukuru’s investigations point to a very large and almost entirely unregulated trade in parrots from Orientale Province. Read more on Lukuru’s work here.

Each country’s national delegates drew up a draft national management plan: identifying, prioritising and assigning responsibilities for the key projects to be implemented. Monitoring plans were also developed, detailing how survey methods will be employed at the national scale. “Any quota for exports of African Grey Parrots must be determined by an estimated population size of the birds at all times, in any country of origin” commented John Woods, Dean of the Department of Forestry at the University of Liberia.

Immediately following the workshop, a team of researchers from among the participants led a four-day training exercise in Gola Forest, training 15 rangers and Site Support Group members in parrot monitoring methods. “The response was very positive” said Emmanuel Loqueh, project focal point for SCNL, “and we will be following up with the group so that this monitoring becomes part of their regular activities”.

African frog research

This 2015 video says about itself:

African bullfrogs spend a lot of time lying dormant underground. When it rains, their uprising is downright terrifying.

From QUEST in the USA:

Captive Breeding Program May Ensure Survival for African Frogs

Post by for QUEST Northern California on Aug 23, 2013

Click PLAY to hear mating calls from Cameroonian frogs in quarantine at Cal Academy: here.

On a recent June evening, herpetologist David Blackburn of the California Academy of Sciences was knee-deep in a west African lake hoping to capture a critically endangered frog.

In the cold, clear water of Cameroon’s Lake Oku, hundreds of brown and gray frogs with webbed feet were paddling around looking for food.

The Lake Oku clawed frog, found nowhere else but in this lake, is like other frogs across the globe that are fighting for survival.

Thousands of frog species worldwide are losing habitat due to deforestation and an amphibian disease caused by a type of fungus called “chytrid fungus.” The fungus grows on the frogs’ skin and causes sloughing skin and extreme lethargy. The changes to the frogs’ skin can be deadly, because frogs absorb water, salts and other nutrients through their skin.

More than a third of the world’s amphibians are threatened with extinction. The disease is a leading cause of frog population declines worldwide.

Researcher Rebecca Tarvin joined Blackburn's team to collect novel data on African frogs' secretions to determine whether they have chemical defenses in their skins

Researcher Rebecca Tarvin joined Blackburn’s team to collect novel data on African frogs’ secretions to determine whether they have chemical defenses in their skins

“Frogs are the canaries in the coal mine,” said Tom Smith, director of the Center for Tropical Research at the University of California – Los Angeles. “They tell us about the health of ecosystems like no other organism. When their populations decline it’s time to pay attention because what is affecting frogs may ultimately affect us.”

As part of an expedition to the mountains of northern Cameroon this summer, Blackburn led a group of students and colleagues to collect the clawed frog and other species.

The researchers hoped the fragile amphibians would survive the 10,000-mile journey back to San Francisco where the team will breed the species in captivity at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

By breeding the amphibians and learning about the frogs’ biology and reproduction habits, Blackburn and his team expect to gain key insights that could help save the frogs – and other species like them – in the future.

“We know so little about some of these species,” Blackburn said. “We’d like to figure out what it would take to be able to breed these frogs in captivity should they suddenly become under serious threat in the only place they’re known to occur.”

If an invasive species or predator entered the lake, it would be difficult for scientists to save the frogs because they don’t fully understand their lifecycle and what they need in order to survive.

Blackburn and his team took video of their expedition. As he knelt close to the water and bagged 25 frogs, he said, “the clock started ticking.”

“Once they are out of the lake, we want them back at the Academy in clean and cool water as soon as possible.”

Bamboutos camp

While Blackburn’s team surveyed frogs in the highlands of Cameroon, they camped in the Bamboutos Mountains, a region with several endemic frog species.

In addition to the clawed frog, Blackburn and his colleagues also collected four other species: Riggenbach’s Reed Frog, Bamenda Reed Frog, Rio Benito Long-fingered Frog and the Black Long-fingered Frog.

Three of the species they brought back, including the clawed frogs, are considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The tiny frogs, which are roughly the size of a quarter, were fed a diet of fish or termites before they were placed in a box aboard an international flight bound for San Francisco.

“In some cases, we had the frogs for two weeks before we traveled back so we had to feed them in the field,” said Cal Academy Senior Biologist Brian Freiermuth. “One of the things we actually did was use termites; we found nests and could break them open and feed the frogs. Termites are actually really high in fat so it’s good if you want to fatten up an animal.”

After more than 30 hours in transit, 54 of the 56 captured frogs survived and now sit in quarantine at the California Academy of Sciences.

About 60 percent of the frogs tested positive for chytrid fungus, which Blackburn said he expected based on his studies of the same species in 2011.

“It wasn’t a surprise to me to find [the fungus] in the frogs that we brought back,” Blackburn said. “It just reiterates why our work is so important.”

From late August to early September, the frogs will be treated with a fungicide that will work to clear the disease. After that, Blackburn and his team will begin breeding these species as Academy staff build an exhibit in the facility’s aquarium so the public can finally meet the frogs.

“One huge part of our goal was public awareness,” Blackburn said. “We really can’t conserve what we don’t know. I’m excited that we can celebrate biodiversity at the Academy’s aquarium. That diversity is threatened and it’s exactly what we’re hoping to conserve.”

Wildlife crime whistleblower gets WWF medal

This video from Kenya says about itself:

Live Operation on Poached Elephant in Galana Ranch, May 2011

Live commentary of Dr Paula Kahumbu on Kenya Wildlife Services veterinarians on site at an ultra delicate surgical operation on a shot elephant in Galana Ranch.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife crime whistleblower wins top WWF honour

Champion wildlife crime opponent awarded top WWF honours

October 2012. Ofir Drori, a tireless anti-corruption whistleblower and law enforcement activist working on the frontlines of endangered wildlife protection in West and Central Africa, has been awarded the 2012 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal.

Congratulations to Mr Drori and his much-needed fight against wildlife crime!

However, it is a problem that this medal is called after the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Prince Consort of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Prince Philip is a vocal fox hunting supporter. As the medal is for work in Africa, Prince Philip’s racist remarks are hardly appropriate.

The WWF in Spain decided to strip the elephant-shooting King of Spain of his honorary chairmanship. How about Britain?

I am not the only person with this kind of objections to the medal’s name, as we will see.

Israeli educator, photojournalist and activist Drori, 36, arrived in Cameroon a decade ago where he founded the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), the first wildlife law enforcement non-governmental organization in Africa. Within seven months, LAGA had brought about Cameroon’s first wildlife crime prosecution, providing a model that is now being replicated in West and Central Africa. Drori is also founder-director of the Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network.

“I am delighted to accept the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal – a great honour that will truly support our work to fight wildlife crime in West and Central Africa and beyond,” Ofir Drori said. “I hope this award also inspires a shift to a more activist approach and bolsters the fight against corruption in our quest to save wildlife – while there are still magnificent elephants and other animals left to save.”

Promoting wildlife law enforcement by combating corruption at all levels, LAGA enabled a shift in Cameroon’s judicial system resulting in arrests and prosecution of major wildlife criminals. The LAGA anti-corruption success story has been replicated in West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defence of human rights.

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade in wildlife have escalated dramatically in recent years and are now the greatest threats to many of WWF’s flagship species. Ofir Drori’s efforts have resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions across West and Central Africa, and helped propagate a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon.

“It is thanks to people like Ofir Drori that we still have a hope of keeping vulnerable elephant and other wildlife populations thriving – and keeping a spotlight on the poaching crisis that threatens them. I applaud his bold and impactful work,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “WWF urges world governments to crack down on wildlife poaching and illegal trade as a matter of urgency.”

WWF is taking action to combat wildlife crime and works with countries where poaching occurs, where illegal trade transits and in consumer countries to stop wildlife crime – by strengthening law enforcement, combating corruption, getting illegal wildlife trade recognised as a serious crime, and reducing demand for endangered species products.

The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment. Ofir Drori joins a long line of conservation leaders to receive the award – including the 2011 winner, Dr Ashok Khosla, one of the world’s foremost sustainable development experts. Mr. Drori receives his award today in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

A comment on this on the Wildlife Extra site says:

what a great shame that philip d.o.e. [Duke of Edinburgh] and his family of hunt supporters will never measure up to this young man with his genuine concern for wildlife protection

Posted by: dee donworth | 06 Nov 2012 13:08:55