Working with the community to save the goliath frog in Cameroon

Fogwan Nguedia Cedrick

The goliath frog, the largest frog of the world, is an endemic species found along the fast flowing rivers in secondary forests and farmlands of southwest Cameroon, listed as Endangered by IUCN. The Nlonako Wildlife Reserve is the species' hotspot where they ensure the balance of the ecosystem and preserve crops by feeding on insect pests. Unfortunately, the species is facing poaching by locals for consumption and for sale in the local market. To mitigate this threat, we started a community-based conservation programme in August 2022. So far, the network of 10 local fishermen, farmers and hunters (former poachers and actual citizen scientists) has helped rescue 19 goliath frogs. Thousands of cases of poaching have also been avoided. The threat is higher than what we initially thought. Our network of locals has reported more than 50 cases of poaching in seven months. The animals were found dead and we could not rescue them. Preliminary research results show that 47% of locals are not aware that the goliath frog is threatened and should not be collected. The remaining 53% are aware, but they are still poaching to eat or sell them because they have no alternative. Among the locals, 76% are aware of the declining trend of this species and they think it is the will of God. There is an urgent need to intensify collaborative monitoring, sensitization and alternative livelihoods support with locals to ensure the long-term conservation of the goliath frog. Therefore, in this project, the team aims to make Mount Nlonako a threat-free home for the goliath frog through effective involvement of the local community in the conservation plan. The project objectives include: monitoring and mapping important nesting sites where poaching occurs through continuing citizen science activities and field work; improve the understanding of locals and raise awareness about the conservation of the goliath frog (including organising a festival and school outreach); and monitor existing livelihoods and explore new alternative opportunities (such as snail farming and ecotourism).