Korup National Park
Korup National Park in an isolated southwestern corner adjoining Nigeria is considered one of the oldest, most beautiful tropical rain forests in the world. Crossed by three major rivers on the inland side of a large coastal plateau, this 486-square-mile (1,259-km2) survivor of ice ages is truly a natural history museum more than 60 million years old. Studies of its teeming pristine ecological diversity have found more than 600 tree species—sometimes within a 1,235-acre (500-ha) plot—including many with important medicinal properties, plus more than 100 mammal species, 435 bird species, 170 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 140 kinds of fish. Many are threatened. Some are entirely new to science.
A tree survey found more than 7,500 standing individuals in a single hectare (2.47 acres). Mammals include elephants, buffalo, antelopes, leopards, chimpanzees, baboons, many kinds of monkeys, and a variety of smaller species. Bird specialties include brilliant blue-headed bee-eaters, long-tailed hawks, Sjostedt’s owlets, black guinea fowl, and others.
Visitors check in first at park headquarters at Nguti in the north, or, in the south, at Mundemba (about 93 miles/150 km northwest of Douala) where tours, guides, and camping can be arranged, also boat trips to coastal mangroves. A variety of lodging is available. Visitors should be prepared for 100 percent humidity, biting insects and fording waist-high rivers—but a good look at this special place and its inhabitants can be worth the effort.
Rock pratincoles and several hornbill species usually are on and over the Mana River, crossed by a suspension bridge at the park entrance six miles (10 km) from Mundemba. There are a number of trails, one leading six miles (10 km) to Chimpanzee Camp.
Poaching is a serious problem, also killing fish by poisoning the water, from both the Cameroon and Nigerian side. A planned buffer zone may relieve some of this pressure.
Korup is home to the Bioresources Development and Conservation Plan (BDCPC) established at the Rio Earth Summit of scientists, industrialists, and environmentalists interested in linking human development with rain forest conservation, and supported by a number of governments, including the U.S. and France. Here, that means integration of park development with local people in planning and decision-making, with helpful programs both by WWF and WCS.