The Role of Bakweri Traditional Beliefs in the Management of Mount Cameroon National Park

Augustine Ngoni Monono, William Oduro, Paul Sarfo-Mensah, Celestin Nana


The sustainability of Parks are threatened because traditional beliefs are not enshrined in the management processes. Despite efforts made by many researchers to demonstrate the significance of these traditional beliefs in Africa, the traditional beliefs are side-lined in resources management. This research investigated the situation in Mount Cameroon National Park (MCNP), where natural resources management has been challenging despite numerous management strategies. MCNP is the home or ‘chariot of gods’ of the gods of Bakweri clan ‘Ihvarza Mote’ the practice of traditional beliefs has declined and so have the natural resources. We surveyed 228 households and randomly selected 14 from the 41 villages in MCNP. Four hundred and eighty seven (487) questionnaires were administered (minimum of 30 per village). Focused Group Discussions (FGD), key informant interviews and participant observations were used as study instruments. Secondary data was obtained from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and also from Park management. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics, multiple response analysis (MRA) to compute aggregate score within conceptual components. We found significant evidence P<0.05 that there are traditional beliefs in the gods of Mount Cameroon ‘Ihvarza Mote’ which affect natural resource management in all the four clusters in MCNP. Majority of the respondents (89.5%) perceived that degradation of natural resources was due to disregard of traditional beliefs. Chi square indicated significant association (P<0.001) that traditional forest conservation was practiced in areas that have traditional beliefs associated with forest resources. Spearman’s Rho elucidates significant (P<0.05) relationship between perceived traditional importance of forest and perceived importance of collaborative forest management. Focused group discussions disclosed dissatisfaction in management strategies especially from hunters. There has been a momentous decline in the use of the Bakweri culture which has caused erosion of culture and indigenous knowledge. We conclude that the non-enshrinement of the traditional beliefs has caused degradation of natural resources, unsustainable livelihood; non-compliance of regulations and poor participation in collaborative natural resource. We recommend enshrinement of traditional beliefs, empowerment and involvement of local people in decision making processes in MCNP. There is a need for an in-depth study of traditional beliefs and culture to inform policy makers and management in resources conservation worldwide.

Keywords:Ihvarza Mote’, Traditional Beliefs, Collaborative Management, Natural Resources Management, Mount Cameroon National Park.

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