Cameroonian Highlands forests

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Cameroonian Highlands forests.

The Cameroonian Highlands forests are a montane tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion located on the range of mountains that runs inland from the Gulf of Guinea and forms the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. This is an area of forest and grassland which is becoming increasingly more populous as more and more land is cleared for agriculture.

Setting[edit]

The Cameroonian Highlands forests extend across the Cameroon Highlands, a chain of extinct volcanoes, covering an area of 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq mi) in eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. The ecoregion lies above 900 meters elevation, and is surrounded at lower elevations by the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests at the southern end of the range, and by forest-savanna mosaic along the central and northern ends of the range; the Cameroon Highlands form the boundary between the Guinean and Northern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic ecoregions. The highest mountain in the chain, Mount Cameroon is considered a separate ecoregion, while the highest peak within the region is Mount Oku (3,011 metres (9,879 ft)). As with similar highland areas in Angola and in East Africa the climate is cooler here than is typical of tropical Africa. The highlands are an important source of water for both Nigeria and Cameroon.

Flora[edit]

The vegetation varies with elevation. Submontane forests extend from 900 metres (2,953 ft) to 1,800 metres (5,906 ft) meters elevation. Above 1,800 metres (5,906 ft) elevation are distinct montane forests and patches of montane grassland, bamboo forest, and subalpine grasslands and shrublands. The ecoregion is characterized by the presence of afromontane species, which have an archipelago-like distribution across the highlands of Africa. Typical afromontane species are Nuxia congesta, Podocarpus latifolius, Prunus africana, Rapanea melanophloeos, and Syzygium guineense bamendae.

Fauna[edit]

The ecoregion is home to a number of endemic species, along with several more that are also found in the nearby Mount Cameroon and Bioko montane forests ecoregion.

Seven species of birds are strictly endemic: the Bamenda Apalis (Apalis bamendae), Bangwa Forest Warbler (Bradypterus bangwaensis), White-throated Mountain-babbler (Kupeornis gilberti), Banded Wattle-eye (Platysteira laticincta), Bannerman's Weaver (Ploceus bannermani), Mount Kupe Bush-shrike (Telophorus kupeensis) and Bannerman's Turaco (Tauraco bannermani), which is a cultural icon for the Kom people who live in the area. Fourteen species are endemic to the Cameroon Highlands forests and Mt. Cameroon: Andropadus montanus, Phyllastrephus poliocephalus, Laniarius atroflavus, Malaconotus gladiator, Cossypha isabellae and the subspecies Cisticola chubbi discolor (sometimes considered a separate species C. discolor). Nine more montane endemic species are shared with Mt. Cameroon and Bioko: Psalidoprocne fuliginosa, Andropadus tephrolaemus, Phyllastrephus poensis, Phylloscopus herberti, Urolais epichlora, Poliolais lopezi, Nectarinia oritis, Nectarinia ursulae, and Nesocharis shelleyi.

Eleven small mammal species are endemic to the ecoregion: Eisentraut's striped mouse (Hybomys eisentrauti), the Mount Oku hylomyscus (Hylomyscus grandis), Mount Oku rat (Lamottemys okuensis), Mittendorf's striped grass mouse (Lemniscomys mittendorfi), Dieterlen's brush-furred mouse (Lophuromys dieterleni) and Eisentraut's brush-furred rat (L. eisentrauti), Oku mouse shrew (Myosorex okuensis,) Rumpi mouse shrew (M. rumpii), western vlei rat (Otomys occidentalis), Hartwig's soft-furred mouse (Praomys hartwigi), and Bioko forest shrew (Sylvisorex isabellae).

The ecoregion is home to several endangered primates, including the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), an endemic subspecies of western gorilla, mainland drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus leucophaeus), Preuss's red colobus (Pilocolobus preussi), common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and several species of guenon including Preuss's monkey (Cercopithecus preussi).

Forty species of amphibians are endemic to the ecoregion: Petropedetes parkeri, Petropedetes perreti, Phrynobatrachus cricogaster, Phrynobatrachus steindachneri, Phrynobatrachus werneri, Phrynobatrachus species, Phrynodon species, Cardioglossa melanogaster, Cardioglossa oreas, Cardioglossa pulchra, Cardioglossa schioetzi, Cardioglossa trifasciata, Cardioglossa venusta, Astylosternus nganhanus, Astylosternus perreti, Astylosternus montanus, Astylosternus rheophilus, Leptodactylodon axillaris, Leptodactylodon bicolor, Leptodactylodon boulengeri, Leptodactylodon erythrogaster, Leptodactylodon mertensi, Leptodactylodon polyacanthus, Leptodactylodon perreti, Afrixalus lacteus, Hyperolius ademetzi, Hyperolius riggenbachi, Leptopelis nordequatorialis, Xenopus amieti, Xenopus species, Bufo villiersi, Werneria bambutensis, Werneria tandyi, Wolterstorffina mirei.

The following reptiles are also considered more or less endemic: Atractaspis coalescens, Chamaeleo eisentrauti, Pfeffer's chameleon (C. pfefferi), four-horned chameleon (Trioceros quadricornis), Leptosiaphos ianthinoxantha, and Angel's five-toed skink (L. lepesmei).

Threats and conservation[edit]

The forest is continually being cleared for firewood, timber and to create farmland, and many of the mountains have lost significant amounts of forest cover. There is very little formal environmental protection.

Urban areas and settlements[edit]

In Cameroon the mountains are quite heavily populated and used for farming and grazing, much of this ecoregion lies in the Northwest and Adamawa Regions. Towns include Bamenda, capital of the Northwest and base for visiting the mountains including Oku, the Kilum-Ijim Forest and Lake Nyos. In Nigeria the ecoregion is located mainly on the Mambila Plateau, an area of agricultural and grazing land in Taraba State.

External links[edit]