Mont Manengouba is situated to the north-west of the town of Nkongsamba. The crater of the volcanic mountain, at 1,950 m, is a large grassy plain c.3 km in diameter with a few low hills, a marshy area to the south and two small, deep volcanic lakes. The surrounding escarpments are very steep, except on the north-western side. The peak (2,411 m), on the south-eastern rim, is forested, while the southern rim is less high (2,100 m) and gives access to extensive forested slopes to the south. Most of the forest in the caldera grows up the eastern and southern rims with a little on the edge of the lakes. It is rather scrubby, with Maesa lanceolata the dominant species and some tall Polyscias fulva locally. However, the largest expanse of forest, which is also much denser, is to be found on the wetter southern and south-eastern slopes, down to an altitude of 1,500 m (above the village of Nsong), but extending lower in the south-east (1,100 m), mainly as galleries. There is little doubt that, in the past, there was a forest continuum between the lower (southern) slopes of Manengouba and Mount Kupe (CM025), 20 km to the south-west. Most of the intermediate country is now farmed, but there are still patches of forest locally.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. As a result of recent surveys some 270 species are now known to occur on Manengouba. In addition to those species of global conservation concern listed below, a few Circus macrourus winter on the mountain. Whereas Andropadus montanus, Laniarius atroflavus, Bradypterus bangwaensis and Ploceus bannermani are all common in the scrubby Maesa forest of the crater, they become scarce/local on the southern slopes (where the Andropadus and Bradypterus are mainly found at the edges of the denser forest; the Laniarius and Ploceus are only near the top). Conversely, several important species appear only in the wet, more luxuriant forest spreading south, including Columba albinucha (seen at 2,100 m), Phyllastrephus poliocephalus, Malaconotus gladiator, Sheppardia bocagei, Cossypha roberti, Zoothera crossleyi, Kupeornis gilberti (truly abundant) and Nectarinia ursulae. The montane forest swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus was discovered for the first time in Cameroon here in 1999, with up to 50 birds feeding over the forested southern and south-eastern rims (at 1,900–2,200 m). Telophorus kupeensis was sought for in the lower-altitude forest of the south-eastern slopes, but not found, probably because the forest here is of recent origin, with most large trees being pioneer species. The crater grasslands are home to Tyto capensis (Manengouba is one of only three definite Cameroon localities), where it is not rare. One species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04) also occurs (Table 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: The massif shares, with a few other localities, three Cameroon endemic mammals: Crocidura manengubae, Myosorex okuensis (VU) and Dendromus oreas (VU), although there is no reason to suppose the last two are endangered. The forest on the southern slopes holds two montane frogs that are apparently endemic: Leptodactylodon erythrogaster and Cardioglossa trifasciata, while one or two others are found only here and on nearby Mount Kupe (CM025) and the Bakossi mountains (CM022). Among Cameroon–Nigerian endemic forest butterflies present are Charaxes obudoensis and C. tectonis.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The scrubby forest in the crater is little used by the few Fulani cattle-herders in the area and is only marginally damaged by fires. It is surprising that the important forest on the southern slopes has had no legal protection status so far. However, a new draft management plan (2000) is proposing to designate most of the area as ‘Protection Forest’. The lower edges of this forest are gradually being felled to give way to gardens (in one place up to 1,700 m). Much of this forest ‘belongs’ to the people of the village of Nsong who, largely thanks to the visits by batrachologist J.-L. Amiet in the 1970s, are well aware that their forest is unique and would welcome visitors to come and discuss protection measures with them.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mont Manengouba. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/10/2020.