Improving management of Douala Edea National Park and Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve

two people standing in a canoe holding fishnets

Why are we there?

ZSL has worked in the Douala-Edéa coastal ecosystem, specifically in Douala-Edéa National Park and Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve, since 2014. The Douala-Edéa landscape has the largest and most intact estuarine, freshwater, and coastal forest complexes in Africa, and harbours a wealth of biodiversity, including several threatened species. Doula-Edéa National Park is Cameroon’s first marine and terrestrial National Park, covering 2,629km2. Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve lies adjacent to Douala-Edéa National Park and is also a key hotspot for threatened biodiversity. Furthermore, this Lake provides vital ecosystem services which local communities rely on; almost 25% of the total population living in this coastal ecosystem carry out subsistence and small-scale agriculture on the land surrounding the lake and over 15% of households are dependent on fisheries.

The people living in this ecosystem face poverty, unpredictable incomes and lack of food caused by seasonal changes as well as a decline in the fisheries they depend on. This decline is due to unregulated and unsustainable fishing practices, which leads to overexploitation of fish species. Exacerbating this issue, is the demand for wood (for fuelwood, construction and use in bivalve and smoked fish industries) which results in the overharvesting of mangroves and consequent loss of important nursery sites for fish. Threatened species such as turtles, forest elephants, manatees and crocodiles, are not only also experiencing this habitat loss and encroachment, but also poaching.

BIOPAMA Programme

In an effort to address these threats and secure the future of this integral ecosystem, ZSL is beginning a new project with the support of the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States through the BIOPAMA Programme.

Under this programme, ZSL and partner Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS), will enhance the management of Douala-Edéa National Park through increasing coordination among public agencies and assessing current management in order to generate recommendations for the creation of a management plan for these Protected Areas. We will also be installing signs at key sites around the park, detailing location of boundaries and prohibitions and best practices operating within the Park, which will increase awareness within local people as well as visitors.

In order to aid in the conservation of the threatened species found in this ecosystem, the programme will undertake a camera trap survey for terrestrial species and a survey of sea turtles, to gather essential biodiversity assessment data which will inform the management plan for these species and the habitat.

two chimps in a tree  

We will also train MINFOF, MINEPIA and Gendarmerie in law enforcement, SMART data collection, adaptive management, and promotion of sustainable fishing practices. This will increase the capacity of these agencies and their collaboration for park management. This will be supported by the design of a best practice patrolling plan for the two Protected Areas and the establishment of a management committee for Douala-Edéa National Park.

The final action of the BIOPAMA programme in the Douala-Edéa landscape is to engage the local communities through creating Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs), enabling members to build savings and improve their financial security. This will also be supported through developing sustainable income generating activities, such as improved agriculture, animal husbandry, and community nurseries, to reduce reliance on unsustainable fishing practices and provide a sustainable source of income thus reducing poverty in target communities. VSLAs will also act as a platform to discuss environmental topics with communities and further conservation messaging, resulting in community members taking ownership of preserving this vital ecosystem.

kneeling man holds and shows plan to two standing ladies


BIOPAMA and EU logos


Project Information

Key species:

  • West African manatee, Vulnerable
  • African soft-shelled turtle, Vulnerable
  • Hawksbill turtle, Critically Endangered
  • Green turtle, Endangered
  • Leatherback turtle, Vulnerable
  • Olive ridley turtle, Vulnerable
  • Daisy stingray, Endangered
  • African forest elephant, Endangered (Regional Assessment)
  • Central chimpanzee, Endangered
  • African grey parrot, Endangered
  • African dwarf crocodile, Vulnerable

People Involved:

  • Nelson Fawoh – Douala-Edéa Project Coordinator
  • Cédric Alex Fodjo Tamo – Biodiversity Officer
  • Jean Bernard Elie Mbi – Community Engagement Support Officer
  • Christian Nkwatchou Kongte – Impact Management Officer
  •  Andrew Fowler – ZSL Cameroon Country Director

Partners and Sponsors:

With thanks to the support of the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States through the BIOPAMA Programme.

ZSL works in partnership with:

  • Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society (CWCS)
  • African Marine Mammals Conservation Organisation 
  • Ministère des Forêts et de la Faune de la République du Cameroun (MINFOF)