Can building fences save frogs?

Posted: 27th July, 2018

In July 2017, BIAZA awarded a £5,000 grant to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) to protect frogs, earthworms and other living things from illegal livestock grazing on the summit of Mount Oku, Cameroon. Local people graze their livestock on the grasslands around the summit, despite the area being part of a protected forest reserve where grazing of livestock is illegal. By working with the local livestock herders and building small fenced off areas (exclosures) the project team hope to create a safe habitat for the Endangered larger night frog (Astylosternus ranoides) and other animals.

Since January 2018 ten exclosures have been built with the help of the Oku community, including people who own and tend to livestock on the Summit. These are now going to be left for plants to grow safe from grazing. The night frogs, previously only seen in the forest are being seen more often in the grasslands.

Unrest in the area makes this project difficult, suspicion of the government and fear of prosecution for illegal grazing makes local people less likely to cooperate, and meetings of livestock grazers cannot be organised in case they are mistaken for a rally. In June 2018, an insurgency flared up against the government of Cameroon, and the Foreign Office advised not to travel to the area. Collection of soil samples and counts of plants and animals have been delayed until next year but it is hoped local workers can take measurements of plant growth and keep a photo log of frogs.

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