Cameroon Trip Report - March / April 2008 - Part 2 of 4

Subject: Cameroon Trip Report - March / April 2008 - Part 2 of 4
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2008 17:58:26 +1000
CAMEROON – March / April 2008 - Part 2

Benoue National Park

Benoue was very hot.  However, it was a very good park and we saw lots of 
birds and other animals in our day and a half here.  We mostly spent the 
first morning sitting on the banks of the Benoue River, looking 
unsuccessfully for the Adamawa Turtle-Dove, which is now very rare.  On 
the riverbank and in the Park, we did see Hadada Ibis, African Fish-Eagle, 
Long-crested Eagle, White-throated Francolin, Senegal Thick-knee, Egyptian 
Plover, White-headed Lapwing, Three-banded Plover, Senegal Parrot, Senegal 
Coucal, Giant Kingfisher, Red-throated Bee-eater, Blue-bellied and 
Abyssinian Rollers, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Greater 
Honeyguide, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, African Pied Wagtail, Dorst’s 
Cisticola, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, 
Black-faced Firefinch, Streaky-headed Seedeater and Cabanis’ Bunting. This 
park had quite good mammals that were obvious during the day.  They 
included Guereza Colobus, Tantalus Monkey, Hippopotamus, Bushbuck, 
Red-flanked Duiker, Oribi and Kob.

In the heat of the afternoon, we birded a different section of the river 
and found the Adamawa Turtle-Dove, as well as Abdim’s Stork, Violet Turaco 
and Swamp Flycatcher.  We also saw Warthog and Olive Baboon. Spot-lighting 
that night was really good with Crested Porcupine, Side-striped Jackal, 
Common Genet, Giraffe, Bush Duiker and Defassa Waterbuck as well as some 
of the antelopes we had seen earlier.

Benoue was a bit of a trial.  There was no running water (as the pump was 
broken), no air-conditioning (as it had broken down) and there was no 
power so the light was from candles.  Water for washing and the toilets 
was delivered in big buckets.  During the night, it was either stifle in 
the heat inside the bedroom or leave the door open (and let in the 
mosquitoes or maybe the lions we heard roaring in the distance).  We chose 
the latter and the mosquito nets we had taken proved very handy.  We had 
to be very careful with mosquitoes in Cameroon as the malaria there is 
extremely potent and, of course, the lions. 

Next day, on our early morning walk, we added Bruce’s Green-Pigeon, 
Brown-backed Woodpecker, Black-headed Batis, Fork-tailed Drongo, 
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver and Red-headed Weaver and saw 
Black-bellied Bustard as we were leaving the Park.

We then set off for Waza Natioanl Park in the extreme north and saw Fox 
Kestrel, the spectacular Northern Carmine Bee-eater and Piapiac on the 
way.  We broke the journey at Maroua for the night.  The hotel there had 
good air-conditioning, which we really enjoyed.

Waza National Park and Environs

We stopped just north of Maroua at a big, rocky hill to look for some 
specialities.  We saw Stone Partridge, Greyish Eagle-Owl, Viellot’s and 
White-headed Barbets, Rock-loving Cisticola, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Rock (or 
Chad?) Firefinch and Brown-rumped Bunting.  Further north, we also stopped 
at the Quail-Plover site.  By this time, it was significantly warming up, 
but Quail-Plover is a special bird and we went searching for it with 
enthusiasm.  It was quite arid with few birds.  We did see Red-pate 
Cisticola, Cricket Longtail and Rufous Scrub-Robin and, eventually, we 
flushed a Quail-Plover.  When we relocated it, we had excellent views.  We 
tried the other side of the “highway” because Golden Nightjar had 
previously been found there.  Although we couldn’t find a nightjar, we saw 
White-bellied Bustard, Spotted Thick-knee, Black-headed Lapwing and Black 
Scrub-Robin, as well as Striped Ground-Squirrel.

Hot and tired, we headed off to Waza for lunch.  The Campement de Waza was 
on top of a rocky hill.  It was about the hottest place we encountered. It 
did have resident Speckled Pigeon and Bush Petronia.

After lunch, we headed back south down the road to some reasonable, 
uncleared woodland in which other groups had found good birds.  Over our 
two days in this area, we visited this woodland three times as it was the 
most productive birding spot in the area.  We saw African Openbill, 
Marabou Stork, Spur-winged Goose, Scissor-tailed Kite, Dark 
Chanting-Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Grasshopper Buzzard, Blue-naped 
Mousebird, Red-billed Hornbill, Eurasian Wryneck, Sennar Penduline-Tit, 
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Black-rumped Waxbill 
and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.  As well, we saw Patus Monkey, Red-fronted 
Gazelle and Tsessebe (Topi).

Next morning, we went into Waza National Park.  I thought this might be 
the best experience of the trip as it is the most visited national park in 
Cameroon and promised to be a “safari experience” like the ones I really 
enjoyed in East Africa.  It didn’t meet my expectations.  It was extremely 
dry with quite limited bird life and even more limited mammals.  The 
three, quite small waterholes we visited had some birds but the “plains” 
were relatively bird-free.  We did see some birds, including Ostrich, 
Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed Storks, Comb Duck, Montague’s Harrier, 
Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Crowned-Crane, Arabian Bustard, 
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Eurasian Turtle-Dove, African Collared-Dove, 
African Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Cut-throat.  We also saw 
some mammals, including Black-necked Rock Hyrax and Roan Antelope.  But, 
by lunch-time, we had had enough of the park and left it even though we 
had planned to spend the whole day here.

In fact, after lunch, we went back to the woodland south of Waza.

Next day, we started heading south visiting the woodland, the Golden 
Nightjar spot and the rocky hill again, ending up in Maroua where we were 
supposed to catch the plane back to Douala after lunch.  But, it was 
grounded for repairs and, as it was the only plane on the route, we had to 
stay that night in the same comfortable hotel in Maroua.

Next morning, the bad news was that the plane was still not flying.  We 
set off for Ngaoundere, way south, so we could catch the train back to the 
south-west.  This was to be a long overnight train journey to Yaounde, 
then a four-hour car drive to our next site at Bamenda.  It was a 
necessary, but not very pleasant, prospect.  When we got to Garoua, we 
found that the plane had been repaired and we could fly to Douala as 
originally planned - just a day later than planned.  After a long wait, we 
set off late in the afternoon and returned to Douala in time for dinner on 
7 April.  But that wasn’t the end of the day’s journey - we still had a 
six-hour drive to Bamenda.


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