Cameroon’s commitment to pangolin conservation

by ZSL on

Cameroon has become a leader in pangolin conservation in Central Africa with the help of MENTOR-POP (Progress on Pangolins), a fellowship programme developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in collaboration with ZSL. 

Ahead of World Pangolin Day in February, the government of Cameroon conducted Africa’s first-ever public burn of confiscated pangolin scales, showing their commitment to conserving the world’s most heavily-trafficked wild mammal. World Pangolin Day also became World Pangolin Week for the very first time in Cameroon, raising much-needed awareness of the threats facing pangolins, as Fellows Esua Etogekwe Fossung and Camille Nkoa Affana explain. 

MENTOR-POP Fellows on World Pangolin Day
MENTOR-POP Fellows with Dr. Ken Cameron of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (third from right)

In the past decade, more than a million pangolins have been poached to meet demand for their meat and scales. Education is key to conserving the species, and Cameroon’s leadership on pangolin conservation was evident in several activities held on or around World Pangolin Day.  

The US Embassy in Cameroon supported MENTOR-POP activities at PROMOTE – an international trade exhibition. Here, we were able to reach out to hundreds of people and were really encouraged by the positive reactions of the local community. They were proud to know that Cameroon is home to three out of the four African species, and made a commitment to spread the word and support pangolin conservation.  

There were also activities in the Mbam et Djerem National Park (MDNP), which is home to three species of pangolin and is considered an area of concern for their conservation in Cameroon. We engaged with children through dancing, singing, and a soccer game with the black-bellied pangolin team vs the white-bellied pangolin team, and helped to instil pride among local communities.  

MENTOR POP pangolin soccer game
Students from Mbakaou Public School raise awareness on World Pangolin Day through a soccer game

The greatest spokesperson at these festivities was the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency M. Michael Hoza. He made a tremendous impact on everyone, from government officials and tribal chiefs to cattle herders and school children, and emphasised the important role that everyone can play. 

Our reach went a lot further than the people we met though and we were thrilled that the media showed a keen interest. Three Fellows appeared on Cameroon’s national TV channel – CRTV – to talk about the importance of protecting pangolins, and we had a great reaction to this on social media. We also spearheaded what is believed to be the first wildlife-focused social media campaign in Cameroon, targeting a broad audience across the region, reaching more than 154,000 people. 

MENTOR-POP Fellow being interviewed at PROMOTE
A MENTOR-POP Fellow is interviewed at the PROMOTE event

“Pangolin conservation is not a one-person battle, it is not an NGO problem, it is not a one-country issue, it is not a fight for MENTOR-POP alone,” says MENTOR-POP Fellow Camille Nkoa Affana. “We all need to work together to ensure that pangolins are protected and have a future in the wild.”  

World Pangolin Day presented an opportunity to do just that: to showcase the determination of MENTOR-POP Fellows, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Cameroon’s government, and the international community to fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Everyone has a part to play and through engaging so many more people, it brings us hope for the future. 

Select a blog

Artefact of the month

Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.

Asia Conservation Programme

Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.

B.U.G.S Blog

Find out more about life in our B.U.G.S exhibit

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.

ZSL Shop

See the latest ranges, updates and special offers from our exciting new online shop.

Wild About Magazine

Excerpts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!

Discovery and Learning in the Field

Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.

Conservation

Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs

Elephantastic!

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.

Tiger conservation

Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.

Videographer Blog

One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.

Wild Science

From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Wildlife Wood Project Cameroon

The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.

Penguin expedition blog

Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica

Amur Leopard

Amur leopard conservation blog

Baby Giraffe Diaries

Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!

Biodiversity and Palm Oil

Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.

Science

Science blogs

Tsaobis Baboon Blog

Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.