African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization (AMMCO) is working to make the coastal and aquatic environments of Central Africa safe for marine wildlife.
AMMCO’s mission is to contribute to the protection of the aquatic megafauna and their habitats in Central Africa by improving the scientific knowledge and involving fishers and other stakeholders in sustainable fisheries and responsible watershed-use.
To achieve its mission, AMMCO’s team have been implementing four strategies including applied research and monitoring, integrated management, awareness and capacity building along their study sites in coastal, freshwater, and littoral areas of Cameroon.
AMMCO’s target species are any aquatic megafauna living on Cameroon’s marine and freshwater ecosystems, however its efforts are focused on the African manatee, sea turtles, sharks and rays because they are more threatened locally than the other aquatic megafauna species.
Since 2015, AMMCO have been raising awareness of two protected areas (Douala-Edea and Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserves) through environmental education in three local high schools, reaching over 1500 students every year.
AMMCO have worked in collaboration with the conservation office of the Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve and Zoological Society of London over the past few years to establish no-fishing zones in Lake Ossa. Lake Ossa is a 4,000ha wildlife reserve in Littoral, Cameroon, well-known for its important population of African manatee as well as freshwater turtles, crocodiles, monitor lizards, snakes, and many aquatic bird species. AMMCO has collected and provided valuable spatial data on the habitat use by fishers and manatees and determined areas that should be set as no-fishing zones to reduce accidental manatee capture.
Before AMMCO began surveying manatee presence in Lake Ossa, there was no monitoring data on manatees in Cameroon. In 2016, the team developed the first bathymetric map of Lake Ossa and updated information on its eutrophication status, which will be useful to guide decision-making for the conservation and sustainable use of the lake.
Synchronicity Earth’s Congo Basin Programme is supporting the expansion of AMMCO’s activities in Lake Ossa to other important aquatic habitats for the African manatee such as the lower Nkam River.