Korup National Park is one of Cameroon’s rainforest protected areas and was gazetted in October 1986 by Presidential Decree N° 86 -1283 of 30th October 1986. It covers a surface area of 1,259 Km2 the southern part of which is nearly pristine. It is located in the South West Region of Cameroon, within the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid zone 32. Specifically, between the UTM coordinates 442,750 – 492,170 m N and 495,090 – 536,950 m E about 50 Km north of the Bight of Biafra and shares 15 Km of its Western boundary with the Cross River National Park, Oban Division of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Korup National Park is one of the wettest and most isolated remnants of the Atlantic coastal forest that once spread all the way from the Niger delta to Gabon (Gartlan, 1986). This forest is widely regarded as a Pleistocene refuge (Maley, 1991). Characterised by the dominance of large, gregarious Caesalpiniaceae species, the vegetation has been described as semi-deciduous lowland rainforest (White, 1983), with many large trees shedding their leaves annually (Chuyong et al, 2000).
Korup is dominated by closed canopy lowland forest with high species diversity. Species diversity associated with changes in habitat is low and variation appears to be largely dependent on soil phosphorus (Gartlan, 1986).
Letouzey (1985) divided the forest into two primary types:
In the southern sector of Korup, Gartlan, (1986) fond that Caesalpiniaceae was the abundant family in terms of basal area but Scytopetalaceae was the frequently abundant represented by Oubanguia alata.
The forest in the northern sector of Korup is a mosaic of old and recent secondary growth. The area adjacent to the Bake River between Baro and Ikenge is largely characterised by secondary formations. Some of the species commonly found in the northern region include, Coelocaryon preussii, Terminalia iveorensis, Elaeis guinensis, Pycnanthus angolensis, Alstonia boonei, Albizia zygia, Funtumia africana, Piptadeniastrum africanum, Tapura africana, Myrianthus arborius, Vitex grandifolia and Macaranga monandra.read more
The Genus Cola (Sterculiaceae) at Korup may contain more than 30 species, several of them undescribed. Korup also supports at least 16 species of Diospyros (Ebenaceae), 7 species of Uvaria (Annonaceae), 12 species of Landolphia (Apocynaceae), 16 species of Salacia (Celastraceae), 17 species of Dichapetalum (Dichapetalaceae), 13 species of Strychnos (Loganiaceae), 8 species of Garcinia (Clusiasceae) and 5 species of Dorstenia (Moraceae).
The southern part of Korup is dominated by the Genus Scytopetalaceae represented by Oubanguia alata.
Korup is a site of endemism with some species being narrowly endemic. These include the trees and shrubs Hymenostegia bakeriana, Tetrabelinia korupensis, Globulostylis talbotii, Soyauxia talbotti, Deinbollia angustifolia, Campylospermum dusenii, Medusandra richardsiana and Ancistrocladus korupensis
Amphibians and reptiles of Korup have been partially surveyed by Sanderson (1936), Perret (1966), Amiet (1978). Studies by Lawson (1992, 1993) indicate that Korup has the highest herpetofaunal diversity known for a single locality in tropical Africa, comparable to that of the most diverse neotropical sites. Korup contains 82 reptiles and 92 amphibians, a number of them endemic to the area. They include 3 caecilian species (limbless worm-like amphibians), 89 species of frog and toad, 2 Tortoises, 2 Turtles, 15 Lizards, 5 chameleons, 3 crocodiles and 55 snakes. Amphibians listed as endangered or vulnerable include Bufo superciliaris and Nectophryne afra.
In ornithological terms, KNP is reputedly the most diverse lowland site in Africa (Rodewald et al, 1994) with a total of 410 bird species recorded so far in 53 families. Particularly diverse groups are: flycatchers (Muscicapidae), Old World Warblers (Sylviidae), bulbuls (Pycnotidae), sunbirds (Nectariniidae), and weavers (Ploceidae). According to ICBP/IUCN four species found in the area are considered to be ‘rare’ including the Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator, the White-throated Mountain-Babbler Lioptilis gilberti, the Red-headed Rockfowl Picathartes oreas, and the Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti, four are listed as ‘near-threatened’ and a minimum of 40 are considered as ‘threatened’ . The African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus is hunted for the export trade.
The mammal fauna of the KNP is fairly well documented. KNP contains one quarter of all Africa’s primate species and represents a particularly important site for primate conservation (Oates, 1996)., such as Chimpanzee, Drill and six species of guenons White-collared Mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus), Red-eared monkey (Cercopithecus erythrotis), Putty-nosed monkey (Cerpithecus nictitans), Mona Monkey (Cercopithecus mona), Crowned Monkey (Cercopithecus pogonias) and the Preuss’s Red Colobus (Procolobus pennanti preussi); Waltert et al (2002); Joshua Linder (2008);Bobo et al (2014)
It contains a number of species that occur widely throughout the Guineo-Congolian forest such as the forest elephant Loxodonta africana cyclotis, forest buffalo Syncerus caffer nanus etc. It also includes species of a much more restricted distribution including a number of endemic species such as the giant otter shrew Potamogale velox, Calabar angwantibo Arctocebus calabarensis, drill Mandrillus leucophaeus, and Preuss’s red colobus monkey Piliocolobus pennanti preussi hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibious in the Munaya River and claim that Manatee Trichechus senegalensis may be found in the deep stretches of the Akwen gorge a little north of the Park boundary (Reid, 1989).
Four species of duikers (Yellow-backed Duiker, Blue Duiker, Ogilbyi’s Duiker and the Bay Duiker) have been recorded from Korup.
Korup supports 55 species of bat and 47 species of rodents (Scholes, 1989).
It has a rich and diverse ichtyofauna of over 200 species of fish including the Nile Perch, suggesting a paleo-hydrological link between Korup drainage and River Nile (Reid, 1988).
Projected 950 species of butterfly (Larsen, 1997)
Commercial poaching usually by both migrant and local hunters due to the flourishing bushmeat markets in and around the area is one of the main threats imparting on the zoological resources of the Park.
Presence of villages in the Park with potentials of haphazard expansion threatens the integrity of the Park and impart negatively on Park resources.
With over 23 villages in a 3 Km periphery of the Park and 5 in-park villages Vabi, M (1999); the presence of Pamol Plantation workers with no provision of farming lands encroachment into the Park becomes imminent. Such a risk will further increase and the zoological resources further threatened if any other large scale agro-industrial complex such as SG-SOC is established.
Uncontrolled harvesting of NTFPs including: chewing Stick (Masularia acuminata), Hausa Stick (Carpolobea lutea) and Eru (Gnetum sp.)