Mount Bamboutos

Mont Meleta

CMNTIPA021
Mount Bamboutos

Country: Cameroon

Administrative region: West (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 5.63700 N, 10.08700 E

Area: 340km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species

IPA assessment rationale

Mount Bamboutos potentially qualifies as an IPA on the basis of past collections of multiple threatened species. However, it is not known if most of these still survive in the area and if they do it is likely to be so in the western part and the caldera, or perhaps in remnant hedges and forest fragments. Herbaceous species are more likely to survive in grassland and scrubby areas on the eastern side.

Site description

Mount Bamboutos is located at the juncture of West, Southwest and Northwest regions, Cameroon. It is the third highest point in the country after Mount Cameroon and Mount Oku, and like those peaks it is part of the Cameroon Line of volcanoes which extends northwest from the Gulf of Guinea and continues beyond Mount Bamboutos as the Bamenda highlands. The area identified here lies within West and Southwest Regions, with a huge caldera at the centre. To the north, south and east the land slopes away gradually from the rim of the caldera forming a high plateau that is heavily populated and cultivated. The western side is much steeper and more forested, dropping rapidly 2.5 km in height to the valley below. The proposed area is a preliminary demarcation based on historical records of botanical significance. Further surveys and consultation will be required to demarcate an actual area where important taxa remain amidst the mostly degraded landscape.

Botanical significance

Mount Bamboutos and the neighbouring plateau has been a focus for Western botanical collecting since the nineteenth century and there are many records of species which are now threatened with extinction. However, it is also one of the most populated areas of Cameroon and has been densely grazed and farmed with extensive loss of forest. Most of the historically recorded taxa were collected from areas that now have no forest remaining, only hedges and patches of trees and savannah (Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020). It is not known how many of these species survive in this fragmented habitat or in the remaining forested parts on the western side. The exceptionally rare, critically endangered and medicinal plant, Ternstroemia cameroonensis, originally collected at this site by Letouzey, is currently thought to only survive at one location within this site, having apparently become extinct at Mt Oku (Cheek et al., 2017). Vepris montisbambutensis (CR) is known only from the type collected here in 1974. Clerodendrum singwanum is known only from the Ledermann collections in 1908 probably lost in the Berlin herbarium fire.

Habitat and geology

The upper slopes of Mount Bamboutos, constituting the area under consideration, are dominated by acidic volcanic rocks such as trachytes, phonolites, rhyolites and tuffs. (Ngoufo, 1992). Soils are generally acidic but varied, with widespread lithosols and rankers but also fertile soils rich in dark humus (Ngoufo 1992). Although these highlands soils have been worked for agriculture for far less time than the lower plateau, they are highly vulnerable to erosion and leaching due to the steep gradients, high precipitation and loss of vegetation (Ngoufo 1992).
Precipitation probably varies considerably across the site due to altitude and the rain shadow effect. Mean annual precipitation at Bamenda to the north was 2260 mm between 1971-2000 (WMO, 2020) but at Dschang, south of the summit, was 1873 +-209 mm between 1910 and 2000 (Kengni et al., 2009). Both these stations are around 1400 m below the summit of Mount Bamboutos. Kengni et al. (2009) recorded a total of 2507 mm over 1 year (2002-3) at the Mélétan station (2608 m). Precipitation is strongly seasonal, with the steep western slopes intercepting the humid Atlantic monsoon winds; 75% of annual precipitation occurs between June and October, and 50% between July and September (WMO, 2020; Ngoufo, 1992). November, December and January are the driest months, with virtually no rain falling in some areas in the east (Ngoufo, 1992). Mean temperatures vary relatively little at lower altitudes (e.g. Bamenda max 22.1-26.8 °C, min 13.1-16.7 °C) but even at 2000 m morning temperatures may drop to zero °C in the dry cold months of November-February.
While probably originally forested, the high Bamboutos area has long borne the imprint of human civilisation. Colonial era maps suggest livestock grazing resulted in savanna of trees or shrubs as well as areas of grassland, with forest remaining only in valleys, steep slopes and along rivers (Ngoufo, 1992; Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020). However, since the 1970s, increasing population pressure and impoverishment of soils in the piedmont area, as well as opportunities for cash crops suited to higher altitude, have led to cultivation and further loss of semi-natural vegetation even at high altitudes, with increased pressure on reduced area of grazing lands, increased fire, and soil erosion from cultivation of even steep slopes (Ngoufo, 1992; Tchassem et al 2019).

Conservation issues

There has been almost complete loss of forest on the northern and eastern slopes of Mount Bamboutos under intense agricultural and population pressure (Ngoufo, 1992; Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020; Tchassem et al., 2019). While it is possible that threatened tree species hang on in hedges or isolated clumps, the extent of development, with large settlements visible on the summit rim itself at 2600 m, make conservation very challenging on this side of the mountain. The small Mount Bamboutos Forest Reserve was already fully degraded from forest to savanna vegetation by 1957 (Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020). Patches of forest are visible still on satellite imagery (Google Earth, 2020 – most recent images April 2020) and may represent small areas that could be considered a salvageable IPA but ground truthing is rapidly required to assess these.
Fire, grazing, agricultural cultivation and soil erosion, including landslides are the main conservation issues. Conflicts exist between traditional livestock grazing and subsistence farming at high altitudes by mainly Fulani (Mbororo) peoples and upwards pressure from Bamilike Mbouda groups growing a new diverse range of garden cash crops such as carrots, cabbage and potatoes as well as oil palm and cocoa (Ngoufou, 1992; Tchassem et al., 2019; Toh et al., 2018). Cultivation of steep slopes, shortened fallowing, increased fire and loss of natural vegetation has resulted in rapid loss of previously fertile, humus-rich high altitude soils and major landslides. Even on the south western slopes and within the caldera valley, there is alarming loss of hitherto better preserved forest with associated erosion and landslides (Toh et al., 2018).
Mount Bamboutos is also a major watershed and habitat conversion and irrigation has resulted in drying up of streams while pollution, sedimentation and nutrient enrichment also result from the intense agricultural use of the land (Ngoufo, 1992; Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020).
The NGO ERuDeF is active in the area and has instigated tree-planting including native species such as Prunus Africana which was eliminated through over-harvesting in the 1990s (Greenvision, 2020). The organisation also promotes more sustainable agricultural methods, hydrological conservation, sustainable income generation and habitat corridors (Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020). Restoration work and surveying is also being funded by ZSL EDGE, focused particularly on amphibians and reptiles, and by the International Tree Foundation (T. Doherty-Bone, 2022, pers. comm. 4 Jan).

Ecosystem services

Over 80,000 people are estimated to be dependent on the watershed, as well as two major hydroelectric plants (Cayet-Boisrobert, 2020). Natural vegetation plays a crucial role in protecting watersheds, reducing soil erosion and sedimentation and protecting against landslides. Habitat restoration has been advocated for these reasons (Ntasin et al., 2008)
The area was considered a very important area for birds although these are now probably limited largely to the western part which is also important habitat for various mammals including gorillas and chimpanzees (Tchassem et al., 2018; International Tree Foundation, 2020; Nkembi et al., 2006).
Forests, where they still exist, also provide various products including medicines to local people (Fotso et al., 2018; Tchassem et al., 2018).

Site assessor(s)

Bruce Murphy, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Jean Michel Onana, University of Yaounde I, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant Biology; IRAD-Herbier National Camerounais

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Aeollanthus trifidus Ryding A(i), A(ii), A(iii) True True True False False
Bidens mannii T.G.J.Rayner A(i) True False False False False
Dipsacus narcisseanus Lawalrée A(i) True True True False False
Dissotis bamendae Brenan & Keay A(i) True True False False True
Eugenia gilgii Engl. & Brehme A(i) True True True False False
Lefebvrea camerunensis (Jacq.-Fél.) Cheek & I.Darbysh. A(i) True False True False False
Lobelia columnaris Hook.f. A(i) True False True False False
Rhabdotosperma densifolia (Hook.f.) Hartl A(i) True False True False False
Rhabdotosperma ledermannii (Murb.) Hartl A(i) True True False False False
Schefflera mannii (Hook.f.) Harms A(i) True False False False False
Orbivestus bamendae (C.D.Adams) Isawumi A(i) False False False False False
Morella arborea (Hutch.) Cheek A(i) True True False False False
Phyllopentas ledermannii (K.Krause) Kårehed & B.Bremer A(i) True True False False False
Afroligusticum townsendii (Charpin & Fern.Casas) P.J.D.Winter A(i) True True True False False
Andropogon pusillus Hook.f. A(i) True True True False False
Clutia kamerunica Pax A(i) True True True False False
Eragrostis camerunensis W.D.Clayton A(i) True False True False False
Gnidia bambutana Gilg & Ledermann ex Engl. A(i) True True True False False
Phyllanthus caligatus Jean F.Brunel & Jacq.Roux A(i) True True True False False
Platycoryne megalorrhyncha Summerh. A(i) True True True False False
Ternstroemia cameroonensis Cheek A(i), A(iii) True True True False True
Isoglossa nervosa C.B.Clarke A(i) False False True False False
Vepris montisbambutensis Onana A(i), A(iii), A(iv) True True True False False
Coleus maculosus (Lam) A.J.Paton subsp. lanatus (J.K.Morton) A.J.Paton A(i) True True True False False
Stachys pseudohumifusa subsp. saxeri A(i) False False True False False
Clerodendrum singwanum B.Thomas A(iii) True True True True False

Aeollanthus trifidus Ryding

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i), A(ii), A(iii)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Bidens mannii T.G.J.Rayner

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Dipsacus narcisseanus Lawalrée

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Dissotis bamendae Brenan & Keay

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:

Eugenia gilgii Engl. & Brehme

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Lefebvrea camerunensis (Jacq.-Fél.) Cheek & I.Darbysh.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Lobelia columnaris Hook.f.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Rhabdotosperma densifolia (Hook.f.) Hartl

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Rhabdotosperma ledermannii (Murb.) Hartl

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Schefflera mannii (Hook.f.) Harms

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Orbivestus bamendae (C.D.Adams) Isawumi

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Morella arborea (Hutch.) Cheek

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Phyllopentas ledermannii (K.Krause) Kårehed & B.Bremer

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Afroligusticum townsendii (Charpin & Fern.Casas) P.J.D.Winter

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Andropogon pusillus Hook.f.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Clutia kamerunica Pax

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Eragrostis camerunensis W.D.Clayton

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Gnidia bambutana Gilg & Ledermann ex Engl.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Phyllanthus caligatus Jean F.Brunel & Jacq.Roux

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Platycoryne megalorrhyncha Summerh.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Ternstroemia cameroonensis Cheek

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i), A(iii)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:

Isoglossa nervosa C.B.Clarke

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Vepris montisbambutensis Onana

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i), A(iii), A(iv)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Coleus maculosus (Lam) A.J.Paton subsp. lanatus (J.K.Morton) A.J.Paton

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Stachys pseudohumifusa subsp. saxeri

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Clerodendrum singwanum B.Thomas

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
True
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane Forest No value
Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Grassland No value

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:

Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Grassland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Agriculture (arable) No value Major
Agriculture (pastoral) No value Minor

Agriculture (arable)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Agriculture (pastoral)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants - Intentional use (species being assessed is the target) Low Past, likely to return
Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas Medium Ongoing - increasing
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming High Ongoing - increasing
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture High Ongoing - increasing
Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming High Ongoing - increasing
Natural system modifications - Dams & water management/use - Abstraction of ground water (agricultural use) Medium Ongoing - increasing
Pollution - Agricultural & forestry effluents - Soil erosion, sedimentation Medium Ongoing - increasing
Geological events - Avalanches/landslides High Ongoing - increasing
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Pollution - Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Medium Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants - Intentional use (species being assessed is the target)

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Past, likely to return

Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Natural system modifications - Dams & water management/use - Abstraction of ground water (agricultural use)

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Pollution - Agricultural & forestry effluents - Soil erosion, sedimentation

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Geological events - Avalanches/landslides

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Pollution - Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Mount Bamboutos Forest Reserve Forest Reserve (production) IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 5

Mount Bamboutos Forest Reserve

Protected area type:
Forest Reserve (production)
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
5

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Bamboutos Mountains Important Bird Area protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value
Bamboutos Mountains Key Biodiversity Area protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value
Bamboutos Mountains Alliance for Zero Extinction Site protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA No value

Bamboutos Mountains

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Bamboutos Mountains

Protected area:
Key Biodiversity Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Bamboutos Mountains

Protected area:
Alliance for Zero Extinction Site
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
No management plan in place No value No value

No management plan in place

Year started:
No value
Year finished:
No value

Bibliography

Cheek, M., Tchiengue, B., Tacham, W.N., 2017

Ternstroemia cameroonensis (Ternstroemiaceae), a new medicinally important species of montane tree, nearly extinct in the Highlands of Cameroon

Blumea, Vol 62(1), page(s) 53-57

Cayet-Boisrobert, Lauriane, 2020

Cameroon: Trees, water, soil and endangered wildlife

Available online

International Tree Foundation, 2020

Mount Bamboutos Initiative

Available online

Kengni, Lucas, Tekoudjou, H., Tematio, P., Pamo Tedonkeng, E., and Tankou, C., Lucas, Y. & Probst, J-L., 2009

Rainfall Variability along the Southern Flank of the Bambouto Mountain (West-Cameroon).

Journal of the Cameroon academy of sciences, Vol 8(1), page(s) 45-52 Available online

Tchassem, A.M, Doherty-Bone, T.M, Kamenin, M.M., Tapondjoun, W.P., Tamesse, J.L. & Gonwouo, L.N., 2019

What is driving declines of montane endemic amphibians? New insights from Mount Bamboutos, Cameroon.

Oryx, 1-11, page(s) 1-11

Shancho Ndimuh, B., 2017

Discover Mt Bamboutos: Cameroon’s Key Watershed with High Diversity Undergoing Depletion

Available online

Focho, D. A., Ndam, W. T. & Fonge, B. A., 2009

Medicinal plants of Aguambu – Bamumbu in the Lebialem highlands, southwest province of Cameroon

African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Vol 3(1), page(s) 1-13 Available online

Nkembi, L., Skeen, R. & Ndeloh, D., 2006

The Lebialem Highlands Montane Birds’ Conservation Project, Cameroon Final Report

Ntasin, E.B., Ayonghe, S.N., 2008

The geological control and triggering mechanisms of landslides of 20th July of 2003 within the Bamboutos Caldera, Cameroon

Journal of the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, Vol 7(3), page(s) 191-204 Available online

Recommended citation

Bruce Murphy, Jean Michel Onana (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Mount Bamboutos (Cameroon). https://tipas.kew.org/site/mount-bamboutos/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)