A silent conflict is raging between traditional authorities of adjacent communities and the Conservator of the Kilum-Ijum Plant Life Sanctuary over the collection of entry fee. The Kilum-Ijum Plant Life Sanctuary is a 1000 hectare protected area created by the Cameroon Government on December 8, 2004 for the sustainable management of some over 40 plant species. It cuts across Boyo and Bui Division in the Northwest Region of Cameroon with over 216 hectare Crater Lake highly fascinating to national and international tourists.
The traditional authorities on the one hand see this area as their natural heritage inherited from their ancestor while the Conservator on the other hand says he is the only one legally authorised to collect entry fee from visitors getting into the sanctuary.
The Green Vision recently caught up with the Conservator of the Kilum-Ijim Plant Life Sanctuary, Toki M. Maute, who painted a vivid picture of this conflict.
“Since the creation of this sanctuary in 2004, the local authorities have been the ones collecting entry fee into the protected area, which though not correct, was tolerated by the government. It was until 2014 when these traditional rulers were placed on a salary, that I started collecting entry fee but they did not desist from collection despite being placed on a salary” the Conservator complained.
Mr Toki explained that though many people visit the Plant Life sanctuary, very few of them are registered with him as they still prefer to pass through the traditional authorities.
“In 2014 for example, only about 30 visitors were registered despite several people visiting the plant life sanctuary. The number increased to 51 in 2015, and in 2016 the number decrease to about 17 due to the socio-economic crises in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of the Country and in this 2017 we have had slightly over seven visitors. The traditional rulers have no right to collect entry fees” He stated.
Besides its over 40 plant species, Mr. Toki posits that the Plant Life Sanctuary is host to Lake Oku with a depth of 52 metres and an elevation of 2,600 metres above sea level plus rare amphibians species that attract tourists into the area. He however advised if you want to visit the Sanctuary, obtain an entry ticket from the Conservator at fcfa 6000, 3000 and 1500 for foreigners, foreigners resident in Cameroon and Cameroonians respectively. An extra charge of fcfa 2000 is also given in case you have a camera or want to use a bike or a car to sail round the sanctuary. He stated that 45% percent of the fees goes into the special fund for the development of wildlife, while 55% goes into the national treasury.
Regarding the carrying out of activities within the Sanctuary, the Conservator said no activity is normally supposed to take place within the Plant Life Sanctuary but the adjacent communities are exceptionally allowed to cultivate honey because it has no damaging effects on the Sanctuary.
The Kilum-Ijum Plant Life Sanctuary Boss said managing the Sanctuary is not a bed of roses
“The Sanctuary has no management plan over 13 years after creation; we are still crafting an initiation letter to send to the Ministry of Forestry to initiate the process of establishing a management plan for the Plant Life Sanctuary. My working condition too is not the best. There is no office for the Conservator. I am being hosted at the Office of the Bamenda Highlands Project, which does not have light now for the past five years since I came there. There is no means of movement” he lamented. The Conservator called on the government to come to his rescue.
By B. Shancho Ndimuh