The Mont Nlonako forest lies between the towns of Nkongsamba (to the north-west) and Nkondjock (to the east). Mont Nlonako is situated a short distance from the neighbouring massifs of Manengouba (CM021) (18 km to the north-east) and Kupe (CM025) (28 km south-west). The town of Nkongsamba is only a few kilometres to the west; the western and northern sides of the mountain have, therefore, been repeatedly encroached upon for agriculture and much of the remaining forest is secondary. The situation is rather different on the eastern and southern sides where the forest is almost untouched above 1,150 m; a small ring of villages and coffee farms established around 1,000–1,100 m has almost cut off the montane forest from the vast, low-lying block of forest to the south-east. In the highest, central part of the mountain is a small cuvette (c.1.5 km in diameter), with much grass and bracken in its centre and forested rims at 1,600 m on the northern, eastern and southern sides; the western side is higher, with the peak at 1,825 m being forested to the top on the western scarp. At 1,150–1,500 m, the forest on the eastern slopes is magnificent, with a 25–30 m tall canopy. It appears, however, to be drier and warmer than similar-altitude forest on Mount Kupe, Bakossi (CM022) and southern Manengouba, with epiphytic vegetation much less in evidence. The lowland forest stretching east to the Nkam river (which forms the eastern boundary of the reserve) and south to the Nkébé river (a tributary of the Nkam) is equally impressive.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Recent surveys have identified 267 species. Differences in the microclimate (presumably) mean that several montane birds found commonly on the neighbouring massifs are either much rarer here (e.g. Kupeornis gilberti, Malaconotus gladiator, Poliolais lopezi, Nectarinia ursulae) or apparently absent. On the other hand, numbers of some species remain high (e.g. Phyllastrephus poensis, P. poliocephalus, Zoothera crossleyi) but these are medium- rather than high-altitude species which tolerate warmer temperatures. Just as montane species tend to occur here at altitudes higher than elsewhere, some lowland species are found unusually high, with Caprimulgus binotatus, Jubula lettii and Melichneutes robustus all observed at 1,150–1,200 m. An unfamiliar song of a pigeon heard at 1,200 m was almost certainly that described for the little-known Columba albinucha, but confirmation is needed. Further surveys are recommended, as is the continued search for Telophorus kupeensis. There are several breeding colonies of Picathartes oreas, including one numbering c.30 nests.
Non-bird biodiversity: The lowland forest is still visited annually by numbers of Loxodonta africana (EN), but they are decreasing; there are still small numbers of Mandrillus leucophaeus (EN) and Pan troglodytes (EN). More importantly, a population of Procolobus (badius) preussi (EN) was discovered on the Nkam river.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A large part of the forest on the eastern and southern slopes of the mountain appears intact, although the extension of the coffee farms around Nguengué village (at 1,000–1,200 m) gives cause for concern. Parts of the lowland forest have been selectively logged in the past and new concessions are nibbling the reserve along the Nkébé river. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is planning to declare Nlonako a Faunal Reserve in the near future, although hunting pressure is high and difficult to control.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mont Nlonako. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2021.