In Pursuit of Highland Endemics
26 February to 30 March 2002
- Summarized Trip Report –
Mount Kupe Bush-shrike is an icon species for bird conservation and the most endangered of the 25 Cameroon highland endemics.
The highlands of Cameroon form one of Africa's most important Endemic Bird Areas, harbouring 25 endemic bird species. These include many elusive and charismatic species such as Mount Kupe Bushshrike, Mount Cameroon Francolin and White-throated Mountain Babbler.
But Cameroon holds far more. Stretching all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad, Cameroon encompasses a plethora of habitats. In addition to endemic-filled highland forests and grasslands, dry Sahelian landscapes, moist woodlands, forest-grassland mosaics of the Adamawa Plateau and tropical lowland forests are squeezed into Cameroon's borders. Cameroon's combined uniqueness and diversity make it a top priority for African birders.
Standard-winged Nightjar -
The elongated feathers make it one of Africa's most spectacular species
Mount Kupe Bush-shrike in full song - note the throat spot!
The primary aim of our March 2002 trip was to see all the Cameroon Mountain endemics (except for those confined to offshore Bioko). This is reflected in our itinerary: 5 days at Mount Kupe, 3 days on Mount Cameroon, 2 days in the Bakossi Mountains and 1 day in the Bamenda highlands. Our secondary aim was to sample the full cross-section of habitats in Cameroon: our northern loop included Waza National Park, Benoue NP and Ngaondaba Ranch.
Some of the highlights of our trip included:
- Finding, after dedicated searching, all 25 species of birds endemic to the Cameroon Mountains, including Mt Cameroon Francolin (a single male on the forest floor was the culmination of two day's searching), Bannerman's Turaco and White-throated Mountain Babbler - the famous "Kupeornis" of the central highlands and possibly the bird in Cameroon with the most character!
- Obtaining video footage of Mount Kupe Bushshrike. We invested a lot of time trekking along slippery mountain paths for this bird, which eventually rewarded us with over three hours viewing and video footage of a total of 4 birds.
- Obtaining over 600 sound recordings of bird vocalisations on minidisc, including most of the highland endemics.
- Testing the excellent new fieldguide to the region by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey, and the set of Chappuis CDs, which both added tremendously to our trip.
- Exploring the Bakossi Mountains, a truly spectacular wilderness area complete with Chimpanzees, Drill and a host of mountain endemics.
- Videoing, in the central woodlands, the elusive Spotted Thrush Babbler and Standard-winged Nightjar, as well as seeing the spectacular Oriole Warbler, White-collared Starling and Adamawa Turtle Dove.
- Five Quail Plovers, the first confirmed records of River Prinia for Cameroon (which Nik Borrow also later confirmed to be common) and an obliging pair of Cricket Longtails in the far North.
- A final species tally of 530 birds, which could probably have been boosted a bit with concentrated lowland forest birding.
View of the looming Mount Kupe - a promise of superb birding to come...
White-crested Turaco, a striking member of one of Africa's most attractive endemic families
Reichenbach's Sunbird - one of Cameroon's coastal specials
Mountain Robin-chat, a dapper little endemic of the highland forests
•For our detailed itinerary in March 2002, CLICK HERE
•For an annotated checklist of bird species that we recorded in March 2002, CLICK HERE (MS Word Document)
•For a list of mammals that we recorded in March 2002, CLICK HERE (MS Word Document)
•For information on Conservation Organisations and ecotourism programs in Cameroon, CLICK HERE
We would like to thank Gus, Margie and Peter for their fantastic company
during the first 14 days of the trip!
Considering a visit to Cameroon?
BUDGET TRAVELLERS: Cameroon is a logistically challenging country for the independent traveller but if you are prepared to rough it,
If you don't have time to browse the finer points just remember - don't be fooled by second class on the overnight trains! We're also considering compiling a CD of our calls of the highland endemics and specials if time allows - please contact us for further details.
The first photograph of Mount Kupe Bush-shrike in the wild, a critically endangered species of which only 25 individuals have ever been recorded
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org