This is a very large area of forested hills situated a short way to the west of Mont Manengouba (CM021) and Mount Kupe (CM025), across the Jide valley. The site includes c.20,000 ha of mid-altitude and montane rainforest (above 1,000 m) and nearly twice that amount of lowland rainforest in ‘Western Bakossi’. There are three peaks between 1,800–1,900 m in the north (one of them an inselberg), the ‘Edib Hills’ in the centre are mostly between 1,100–1,450 m while the south-west is lower-lying (down to 150–200 m on the Mungo river); the terrain, however, remains precipitous almost throughout. The hills are dotted with a few small settlements, more populated at low altitudes, where some cash-crops (especially cocoa) are grown. No rainfall data are available, but there is little doubt that the wettest and coolest section is in the centre around Lake Edib (a small crater lake and swamp surrounded by cliffs and forest) and a striking feature of the forest in this region is the abundance of epiphytic moss. Away from settlements, the forest cover is usually continuous, but very locally, mainly near Kodmin (1,320–1,450 m) on the eastern side, the vegetation consists of a mosaic of bracken clearings and forest patches; the origin of these clearings is probably secondary, but the forest seems unable to regrow. As for the area between Kupe and Manengouba, there was evidently a forest corridor in the recent past between these two massifs and Bakossi, at altitudes varying from 200–1,200 m, thus high enough for a number of montane species.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. There have been only limited surveys, but the area holds at least 330 species. With Mount Cameroon (CM027) and Mount Oku (CM012), Bakossi is one of the three most important sites for the conservation of local endemics along the Cameroon chain, given that its area of upland forest is much greater than those on nearby Mount Kupe and Manengouba (which are, however, almost equally rich in montane bird species). The most endangered of these (given its small range), Telophorus kupeensis, is not uncommon in the Edib Hills, in primary forest at 1,000–1,250 m. Bakossi is also particularly important for its populations of Kupeornis gilberti, abundant throughout mid-altitude forest (>1,100 m near Edib, >1,250 m in the north). The status of Apus sladeniae (of which there exists a specimen from Bakossi, the only record for Cameroon) is uncertain: this swift could be overlooked as it is difficult to distinguish from Apus barbatus. Ploceus bannermani reaches its western limit at Kodmin, the only part of Bakossi with suitable habitat (forest clearings) for this ecotone species. Malaconotus gladiator is common in the hills around Kodmin and Edib at 1,100–1,450 m, also taking advantage of exposed canopy at forest-edges; it appears absent at similar altitudes in the north of the Bakossi range, which are considerably warmer (i.e. it is an area where all montane species occur 150–200 m higher in altitude than in the Edib Hills). Bakossi is perhaps the only site in Cameroon where all three Smithornis coexist, S. capensis in more secondary situations than its congeners; S. sharpei is widespread in this and other mid-altitude forests in south-west Cameroon. One species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04) also occurs (Table 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: Until recently, the Edib Hills had an important population of Mandrillus leucophaeus (EN); unfortunately hunting of the species has recommenced.Cercopithecus preussi (EN)is still present.Potamogale velox (EN) is common here, and it is not clear why this widespread species should be considered endangered. Of the several montane frogs endemic to the Kupe–Manengouba–Bakossi area, one appears confined to Bakossi, a new species of Leptodactylodon (L. wildi) discovered at Kodmin in 1998. Recent studies of the vegetation have led to the discovery of new species of trees.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A management plan is in preparation with the aim of designating most of the Bakossi mountains as Protection Forest (54,983 ha). The human settlements in the uplands are so few and so little populated that they have minimal impact on the forest ecology (except for the hunting of large mammals); in Western Bakossi on the other hand, cocoa farms are extending south of Bangone in an area of pristine forest. Unfortunately, an old, abandoned road along the south-eastern edge of Bakossi is being reopened with European funds and, inevitably, the good-looking lowland forest around Mahole and southwards will suffer as villages will be encouraged to develop along the new road.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bakossi mountains. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.