Mounts Kupe and Muanenguba: Custodian of tradition and biodiversity

On the ground experiences by Peter Ngea, Regional Communication Manager for WWF CARPO

Kupe and Muanenguba are chained mountains located in the Southwest and Littoral provinces of Cameroon and which carry some of the oldest forests in Africa. To the west of these mountains is found the Bakossi Mountains, a colossal expanse of continuous forested hills running several kilometres north.
With an altitude of over 2400m above sea level and a huge forest cover, the mountains serve as an important water reservoir for most of the South-western area of Cameroon and is home to some of the rarest wildlife (e.g. Mount Kupe Bush Shrike (Malaconotus kupeensis) and plants. 

Over 329 bird species on Mount Kupe alone
The area is famous for its large number of birds. Over 329 species have been recorded on Mount Kupe alone, amongst them, the elusive Mount Kupe Bush Shrike (Malaconotus kupeensis), the White-throated Mountain Babbler (Kupeornis gilberti), and the Green-breasted Bush-shrike (Malaconotus gladiator). The mountains also harbour the Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas) or Rock fowl, as it is locally known.

Several primate species

The area is home to many primate species including the highly endangered drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), the less well-known relatives of Mandrill, are one of the most endangered primate species in the world. They are found only in West Cameroon and eastern Nigeria and the Kupe-Bakossi Mountains are home to some of the healthiest populations still remaining.

Also found in the area are Preuss' Monkey (Cercopithecus preussi), Red-eared Monkey (Cercopithecus erythrotis), Putty nose guenon (cercopithecus nictitans) and several species of Bush baby, Redcapped Mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), Chimpanzee and Preuss' Red Colobus (Piliocolobus preussi).

The area has several species of Chameleon, with many thought to be found nowhere else in the world. Other important mammal species as elephants, rare antelopes and buffalo roam parts of the "black bush", as locals call the dense forests.

"Mystical" powers from Kupe Mountain
Kupe-Muanenguba Mountains are the greatest sacred places in the Bakossi tribe. Chief Nsume-Ngeh of Nyassoso confided in me that he got his "mystical" powers from Kupe Mountain. "That is where my fore fathers live, that is where we get the best herbs and that is where we perform our sacrifices".

The chief claims that the steep mountain slopes were designed to act as a natural defense to dissuade man from challenging supernatural powers. That is why, he notes, any planned trip in to the mountains calls for traditional blessings. Stories are rife around the area on what has befallen anyone who dared go up the mountains without traditional rites.

The sacred twin lakes of Muanenguba
The famous twin lakes of Muanenguba still carry mysterious stories with many believing that the founder of the Bakossi land resides in the male lake (as one of the craters is referred to - the other and larger one is the female). As the summit of the mountain is almost always covered by dense clouds, locals believe the living mountains are trying to hide what is left of its wealth.
Typical Bakossi compound on the slopes of the mountain. / ©: WWF-Canon / WWF-CARPO / Peter Ngea
Typical Bakossi compound on the slopes of the mountain.
© WWF-Canon / WWF-CARPO / Peter Ngea
Chief Nsume-Ngeh of Nyassoso told me he got "mystical" powers from Mount Kupe. / ©: WWF-Canon / WWF-CARPO / Peter Ngea
Chief Nsume-Ngeh of Nyassoso told me he got "mystical" powers from Mount Kupe.
© WWF-Canon / WWF-CARPO / Peter Ngea

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