Everything you should know about Mount Nimba

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve & East Nimba Nature Reserve

 

The landscape around Mount Nimba stretches over Liberia, Ivory Coast and Guinea. It has dozens of springs and provides a significant amount of water. At its highest point Mount Nimba peaks at 1,752 m. The lowlands are covered with verdant forests. The higher one gets the more the panorama turns into grasslands. The park is partly a reserve and covers 12,540 ha on Guinean territory and 5,000 in Ivory Coast. In Liberia it is called East Nimba Nature Reserve, in Guinea and Ivory Coast Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve. In Liberia a large part is affected by previous mining activities. In Guinea only a small part fell under mining activities. Some areas had been damaged due to clearing by fire to make space for cattle and agriculture. During the civil wars people moved into the region of Mount Nimba as there was no forestry law enforcement. Logging increased and animals fell victims to bush meat hunting. By 2014 the total forest area had been significantly lower than 40 years earlier. In Liberia deforestation lead to soil movement and erosions. The remains of the terrace-like slopes formed a water filled pit called Blue Lake. The lake has a blue color when the sun shines on it. In 2003, a 135 sq km part on the Liberian side was put under conservation and became a reserve. The area is now recovering. The untouched regions are a natural habitat for endemic plant and animal species. They are both unique to West Africa as well as to the whole continent. Some, such as the micro potamogale and a toad are endangered. The main reason is a declining breeding ground. The changing climate zones in the different altitudes are further responsible for producing various ecosystems with certain species living only in a confined niche of the reserve. The Liberian part of Mount Nimba, near the town Yekepa can be reached with a 4×4 car from Monrovia within 10 hours. The roads are partly paved The stretch between Gbanga and Ganta has frequent potholes. During the rainy season it can become more difficult to reach Nimba as the road tends to get muddy and unpassable. The best time to travel is during the dry winter from December to April. The rainy season is from May to November. In the Liberian part the entrance fee is 10 USD and additional 20 USD per day have to be paid for a ranger, who is compulsory. Despite no existing camping facilities, another 5 USD have to be paid for each day staying there.

In several regions of the Nimba Reserve, economic and environmental priorities do not agree with each other. On one hand environmentalists try their best to preserve the area and keep it as peaceful for animals as possible, on the other hand there are people who see a potential for economic development. Chimpanzees among other animals belong to the affected populations. As the inhabitants of the three countries often struggle with earning money, for many of them economic development and industrialization seem more beneficial than preservation of nature. Awareness campaigns are used to engage local residents in environmental and sustainable activities.

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Written by: Benjamin Sydney Pretsch

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