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Biological and Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation in Cameroon


Mundemba, Limbe, Cameroon

Program Description

The summer program in Cameroon offers unique opportunities to learn about the biological, social, and cultural dimensions of tropical forest conservation through direct interaction and complete immersion. The program focuses on two broad themes, each supported via site visits, focus groups, interviews and your readings:

1. Biological aspects of conservation science – we will study how conservation biologists measure and assess the plants and animals of tropical lowland and montane forests and savannas and use that information to inform conservation strategies

2. Social and cultural aspects of biodiversity conservation – we will observe and participate in daily activities of farmers/hunters living in villages near to a national park. We will aim to understand how local people view wildlife, forests, health and disease, and socioeconomic development and consider how local understandings of these issues influence human behaviors and perceptions related to wildlife conservation.

Learning Objectives include:
1. Understanding the human threats to tropical forests and wildlife in west and central Africa, especially overhunting and deforestation through logging and small and large-scale agriculture
2. Understanding the role local and international conservation organizations play in biodiversity conservation in Cameroon
3. Understanding how local Cameroonians living near to a national park view the forest, its wildlife, and conservation activities
4. Understanding challenges of protected area management
5. Learning commonly used data collection and analytical techniques to survey and assess tropical forest plants and animals and understanding how these techniques inform conservation strategies
6. Learning commonly used anthropological data collection and analytical techniques for studying culture
7. Developing potential solutions to the challenge of tropical forest conservation

Location Description

The program takes place in Cameroon's South West Region, home to some of the most biodiverse rainforests in all of Africa. Some of the world's most threatened primate species are found in these rainforests including chimpanzee, Preuss's red colobus monkey, and the drill monkey. These forests are also threatened by human activities especially overhunting (for meat from wild animals) and deforestation from small and large scale agriculture. We will spend much of our time in and around Cameroon's famous Korup National Park, to learn about wildlife conservation. We will base ourselves in the town of Mundemba, where Korup headquarters is located, and from which we will visit sites to learn about the human dimensions of wildlife conservation. We will visit villages to interview people living on the periphery of the park and to enjoy cultural celebrations such as local singing, drumming, and dancing. We will visit small- and large-scale oil palm plantations, from which palm oil is derived (Palm oil is found in most of your processed foods, cosmetics, and soaps). We will learn from farmers and hunters about the importance of forest products (plants and animals) for medicine, cooking, and local cultural activities. Upon arrival to and departure from Cameroon, we will spend some days in the town of Limbe, located on the Atlantic Ocean. We will visit and work with the Limbe Wildlife Center, a wildlife sanctuary that rescues animals, especially primates that have been illegally taken from the forest. We will also visit international organizations based in Limbe that are working on helping the Cameroon government improve the effectiveness of tropical forest conservation. Finally, we will enjoy some time on the black sand beaches of Limbe, relaxing and discussing the field of biodiversity conservation.


Joshua Linder | | Sociology and Anthropology


Accommodations will be provided for students through hotels, lightly furnished apartments, and tents (while camping in the forest). Students will share these accommodations with each other.

All meals will be provided as part of the program.

Additional Items to Consider


· Passport and visa to Cameroon
· Immunizations - Yellow fever, typhoid, and any necessary boosters for polio, tetanus, and meningitis
· Prophylaxis - all students are required to take malaria medicine prior to, during, and after the trip to reduce the chances of contracting malaria

This is JMU's most challenging study abroad program. You will be living in a very hot, humid environment in a culture that is completely different than your own. In the forest, you will be sleeping in tents and will be hiking a lot along difficult terrain. It will likely rain a lot (it is the start of the rainy season when we go) and, in the forest, you will get very wet, sweaty, and dirty. You will be required to talk to people you do not know about sensitive topics. You will eat food that is foreign to you. You may get sick, especially from an upset stomach. You will miss home - your family, your friends, your food. will also learn a lot about a different culture and about yourself that no classroom can teach you. So, additional criteria for applicants include:

Applicants should:

· Be physically fit, enjoy the outdoors, and be willing and able to hike on and off trails
· Be patient - things in Cameroon can take more time than expected since we will be traveling on bad roads during the rainy season - it's all part of the adventure
· Enjoy talking to and engaging with people who hold different worldviews - you will learn best by talking to Cameroonians. It takes a few days to feel comfortable doing this. But, if you are afraid to talk with people, you will get very little out of this course.
· Have an open mind and be willing to be challenged - there will be times that you will be tired or you may not feel well or you miss home. That is all normal. Immerse yourself in the biologically diverse rainforest and in Cameroonian culture and it will all be worth it.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.9

Open to all majors

Application Process

(Program Open)

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:
  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.
Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ANTH 391: Study Abroad: Biological and Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation in Cameroon (6 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.