The biology and management of wild helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris galeata Pallas) in the Waza region of North Cameroon

H.L. Njiforti

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>Criticisms have arisen with respect to the way protected areas in Africa are being managed in a top-down fashion, with the state as the sole owner. Such an approach has failed in a number of protected areas because of encroachment (mainly poaching and habitat destruction), socioeconomic instability, and conflicts of interests with local communities. The long-term conservation of wildlife and the future of many protected areas in Africa today requires a review of present management strategies. In the general introduction (Chapter 1), some of the major problems of protected areas of Africa in general and of Cameroon in particular are discussed.<p>One of the major problems facing the managers of protected areas is poaching of wildlife by both local communities and outsiders. 'Bushmeat' (meat from wild animals) is a major source of animal proteins in most parts of Africa. In the two Northern provinces of Cameroon, meat from wildlife is widely consumed. The North African Porcupine ( <em>Hystrix cristata</em> ) and the guineafowl ( <em>Numida meleagris</em> ) <em></em> top the list among the wildlife species that are consumed (Chapter 2). Since wildlife utilisation by local communities cannot be completely stopped, it is important that some way be found to make such use sustainable. A good sustainable use scheme may also be a way of getting local communities involved in nature and wildlife conservation. Such a scheme could take the form of a regulated hunting arrangement for villages in the area adjacent to protected areas. However, if local communities are to be legally authorised to exploit any natural resources, the exploitation must be sustainable. For the exploitation to be sustainable, there must be a good management strategy based on sound ecological knowledge of the resources.<p>The guineafowl was chosen as a species that could possibly be exploited by local communities around the Waza National Park of North Cameroon. The biology of this bird was investigated from 1991 to 1995 to establish an ecological basis for such exploitation. Censuses in and around the Waza National Park showed that the population density of guineafowl in this area could be up to 216±108 birds/km <sup>2</SUP>. This density varies with habitat type, year, and level of human activity (Chapter 3). Investigation of the diet of this bird from crop content analysis (Chapter 4) showed that it is omnivorous. It feeds on a wide<br/>variety of plant seeds, roots and insects, but especially on the rhizomes of <em>Stylochiton lancifolius</em> (a plant) and on termites (an insect). A study of the breeding performance of the guineafowl inside the National Park (Chapter 5) showed that the annual rainfall plays an important role in its annual breeding success. Nest abandonment, predation of both eggs and guineafowl hens, trampling by elephants and floods were found to be principal causes of nest losses, but play a lesser role in the total breeding success.<p>An investigation of mortality and mortality factors (Chapter 6) showed that the annual mortality rate varied slightly with sex, age and year. A multifactorial analysis of population parameters showed that variations in annual breeding success resulting from variation in annual rainfall could explain most of the population density changes in the region. Hence annual rainfall can be used to estimate annual production and possible harvesting strategy for the Waza guineafowl population.<p>Studies on the home range size, emigration, and social organisation (Chapter 7) showed that the home range size varied with season (rainy and dry season). Group size varied with month, being largest between March and April and smallest in August. Young birds and birds in large groups had a higher tendency to emigrate. Information from previous chapters is used to develop a model for predicting annual guineafowl productivity and assess the possible magnitude of harvesting quota for the Waza region (Chapter 8). In the last chapter (Chapter 9), information from a socioeconomic survey in the Waza region and those from other chapters are used to propose a hunting zone for the management of hunting of guineafowl by villagers. A possible set-up of an organisation for running this hunting zone is also proposed.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Prins, Herbert, Promotor
  • Udo de Haes, H.A., Promotor, External person
Award date24 Sep 1997
Place of PublicationMaroua
Print ISBNs9789054857365
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • numida
  • guineafowls
  • wildlife conservation
  • population ecology
  • nesting
  • community involvement
  • cameroon


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