"The Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve has potential and only needs to be valued at its true value"
Who is the new Conservator of the Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve (LOWR)?
Hector Sylvian Ebog, is the new conservator of the LOWR, he has his B.Sc in Water, Hunting and Forestry Engineering and a Master's degree in Management of Natural Resources. After joining the public service in 2012, he trained at the “Direction de la Faune et des Aires Protégées du Ministère des Forêts et de la Faune” (Administration of Wildlife and Protected Areas of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife), where the Minister of Forestry, conferred on him the role of Conservator, on August 29, 2019.
What can you say about the protected area that you administer?
The LOWR is a third category protected area because of its relatively small size. The reserve has an aquatic and a terrestrial area with water covering more than 90\\\\\% of its surface area. Lake Ossa is one of the largest lakes in Cameroon and provides a very diverse flora and fauna including the iconic manatee.
This protected area has potential and needs to be developed, which will inevitably change the standard of living of the local population that, for the most part, relies on fishing as the only income generating activity.
Which wildlife species caught your attention in the Reserve?
The Reserve has a rich biodiversity of species. Although, so much attention has been given to the protection of the African manatee, an iconic species in the Reserve. The lake also has freshwater turtles and a picturesque landscape. All these elements constitute major assets for the development of ecotourism.
What are the different challenges you are facing?
The challenge of fishing code and its implementation, the fast spread of salvinia which is today a great obstacle for the survival of manatee. The LOWR also needs to establish a basecamp and a management plan.
How do you plan to address those challenges?
By organizing the interventions of the various partners within the LOWR, by multiplying patrols and sensitizations of the public to make our actions participatory. With the support of our partners, we could develop ecotourism activities that can make the LOWR destination even more attractive.
What are your expectations from the different partners, including NGOs and associations working on conservation?
My answer to this question is that the partners develop projects for the benefit of the LOWR and the local population by consulting with them during the planning phase so that they feel really involved in the process. Especially for the LOWR, we invite our partners to an open and transparent collaboration, while at the same time asking them to sign Memoranda with the MINFOF which is the authority that can approve their presence in the Reserve.
Interviewed by Rowina Nguimbis.