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Location Cameroon, North-west Province
Central coordinates 10o 30.00' East  6o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 1,600 - 3,011m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Cameroon Biodiversity Conservation Society (Affiliate)



Site description At 3,011 m Oku is, after Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in West Africa. The site, also known as Kilum–Ijim, is a proposed Community Forest Reserve, the boundaries of which were largely agreed in 1988 and mostly follow the 2,200 m contour, but come down to 1,600 m at their lowest point. They enclose an area of c.20,000 ha, about half of which is montane forest, now the only extensive area of forest left anywhere in the Bamenda highlands. Important trees throughout include Carapa procera, Schefflera abyssinica, S. mannii and Syzygium guineense bamendae; Podocarpus latifolius is locally dominant at high altitudes and there is extensive Arundinaria bamboo forest above 2,600 m. The canopy of the forest is usually rather open and there are extensive shrubberies of Acanthaceae in the understorey. Habitats also include montane Sporobolus grassland, Gnidia woodland and montane Hypericum–Adenocarpus shrubland together with a few swamps (the main one is Afua at 2,100 m); Lake Oku (at 2,200 m and with a diameter of c.2,000 m) is in a cuvette entirely surrounded by forest. Average annual rainfall is over 2,000 mm. The slopes below the reserve (which were also forested in the past) are now almost entirely under cultivation.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 and 3 for key species. Some 170 species have been recorded from the reserve area. The forest holds the last major populations of Tauraco bannermani and Platysteira laticincta. The former is common throughout (to 2,950 m), and may number up to 2,000 pairs. T. bannermani competes with Tauraco persa locally up to 2,250 m. The wattle-eye is common up to 2,600 m and there are perhaps some 1,500 pairs. Several other Afromontane species endemic to the Cameroon–Nigeria chain occur in good numbers, including Andropadus montanus (widespread in open understorey and at edges up to 2,500 m), Bradypterus bangwaensis (widespread to 2,900 m), Ploceus bannermani (common at edges and in open understorey up to 2,900 m). On the other hand, Malaconotus gladiator is very scarce (2,220 m), as the altitude is rather too high for this species. In addition to the other species of global conservation concern, Circus macrourus has been recorded and is perhaps regular. Three species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04) and six of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome (A05) also occur (see Table 3). Up to 800 Tachybaptus ruficollis have been recorded on Lake Oku.

Non-bird biodiversity: Oku is very important for small mammals. The rodent Lamottemys okuensis (EN) represents a species and, indeed a genus, known only from Oku, and a golden mole and three other rodents apparently endemic are Chrysochloris balsaci, Lemniscomys mittendorfi (EN), Hylomyscus grandis and Lophuromys dieterleni. Three other Cameroon endemics, all of limited distribution in the country, also occur: the shrew Myosorex okuensis (VU), squirrel Paraxerus cooperi (VU) (common) and rat Hybomys eisentrauti (EN). Other mammals of note include Galagoides thomasi. Almost all large mammals have been hunted to extinction, although a few Cercopithecus preussi (EN) remain. Amphibians: several species of montane frogs have their centre of distribution in the Bamenda highlands; at least two Phrynobatrachus spp. tape-recorded at Oku appear to be unmatched vocally, but the taxonomy of this genus is confusing. A toad Wolterstoffina chirioi is apparently endemic. Butterflies: Charaxes tectonis and Bicyclus anisops are amongst the Cameroon–Nigerian forest endemics present. Plants: some 10 species new to science, including three trees, have been found recently in the Oku area. Several other plants are known only from Oku and one or two other sites. A checklist of plants, including those of conservation concern, has been prepared by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Western Green Tinkerbird Pogoniulus coryphaea resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cameroon Olive-pigeon Columba sjostedti resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Bannerman's Turaco Tauraco bannermani resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Campethera tullbergi resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Banded Wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Green-breasted Bush-shrike Malaconotus gladiator resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Yellow-breasted Boubou Laniarius atroflavus resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Boubou Laniarius poensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Crested-flycatcher Elminia albiventris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-backed Cisticola Cisticola discolor resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Green Longtail Urolais epichlorus resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-collared Apalis Oreolais pulchra resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cameroon Montane Greenbul Andropadus montanus resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Western Mountain Greenbul Andropadus tephrolaemus resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Cameroon Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus poensis resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Bangwa Forest Warbler Bradypterus bangwaensis resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Grey-chested Babbler Kakamega poliothorax resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Waller's Starling Onychognathus walleri resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Robin-chat Cossypha isabellae resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Cameroon Sunbird Nectarinia oritis resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Northern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia preussi resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bannerman's Weaver Ploceus bannermani resident  2000  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fernando Po Oliveback Nesocharis shelleyi resident  2000  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Crimson-wing Cryptospiza reichenovii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Seedeater Serinus burtoni resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Oriole Finch Linurgus olivaceus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed low
unset
Unknown

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  No management planning has taken place  Very little or no conservation action taking place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kilum-Ijim Forest Conservation Area 20,000 is identical to site 20,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - undifferentiated; Woodland - monodominant  -
Grassland Grassland - montane  -
Savanna Bamboo - Montane  -
Shrubland Scrub - forest; Shrubland - Montane  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
other -
Notes: Firewood collection; harvesting natural products.

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Boistel and Amiet (2000), Cheek et al. (2000), Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett (1998c), Forboseh and Maisels (2000), Fotso (1993, 1996, 2001), MacLeod (1987), McKay (1994), Stuart (1986), Verheyen et al. (1997).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mount Oku. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife