Introducing new EDGE fellow Paul

My name is Paul, I’m from Cameroon and as an EDGE Fellow I am studying the West African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) in Cameroon.

I graduated in Applied Ecology and Wildlife Management at Dschang University and my master’s thesis focused on manatee research and conservation in Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve in Cameroon. I have been implicated in marine mammal research, conservation and education projects in Cameroon since 2011, with the African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization (AMMCO) and under the supervision of Aristide Kamla.

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 Surveying manatee with binoculars and Hummingbird side scan sonar in Lake Ossa.

The West African manatee is one of the many threatened marine mammals in Africa with an estimated wild population of less than 10,000 individuals. The wide distribution of the African manatee, along the west coast of Africa from Mauritania to Cuanza River in Angola, contrasts with the low level of information known about the biology and ecology of the species, particularly in Cameroon. The low interest in manatee conservation awareness in Cameroon is partially a result of the limited availability of biological, ecological, socio-economic data for this endangered species. Although African manatees are entirely protected by the law in Cameroon, they are still facing several threats. There have been no systems for monitoring and quantifying these threats in order to explain how they affect populations of this species in Cameroon. With very limited information about their current distribution and abundance, it becomes difficult to understand population dynamics, local status and trends. A silent extirpation of the manatee in Cameroon coastal and inland waters may be occurring.

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My Fellowship project will focus on assessing the distribution and threats facing the evolutionary distinct and globally endangered (EDGE) West African manatee in Cameroon. The aim is to significantly improve the knowledge of the ecology and health of the African manatee in Cameroon through field based research, the building of a sighting network with local fishermen and partnering and engaging with private and state conservation organizations in order to develop and implement conservation strategies and policies for this species.

With this Fellowship, I’m looking forward to clarifying the distribution and conservation status of Trichechus senegalensis in Cameroon, which will help inform the African Manatee conservation action plan. Stay tuned for regular updates on my project progress!

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Providing our sighting network with observation kit

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