It hasn’t taken long to discover the center of the Cameroonian wildlife Universe began at Limbe. Somehow, someway, just about everyone in Cameroon, ex-pat anyway, connected to wildlife can be linked to Limbe Wildlife Center; the Cameroonian Kevin Bacon affect. It’s not necessarily the natural epicenter, but history has chosen it—why exactly is still a mystery, I suspect the British had something to do with it, but over the next few weeks I hope to find out why.
Limbe, Cameroon — From what little of Cameroon I have seen in less than 24 hours, Douala is to be flown into and exited shortly there after. Limbe, on the other hand, eases up naturally on the senses. Nothing about the equatorial hot, humid confusion of Douala is inviting, nor the industrial confusion of the Bonabéri, the suburb lining the western side of the port. But 30 odd kilometers later, the minute you veer left at the split in the rural town of Mutengene (a town you apparently pass through and never stop — based on the diversity of thieves and their ways — trust me Ivo (Ivo Ngome, my driver and shadow for the next 30 days) gave me a running monologue about the dangers of this place including how the local thieves can hypnotize you and steal you blind, “even the police here are frightened, very frightened”) the thin tarmac road begins a gentle roller-coaster ride through green hills rowed in palm oil or banana. Between plantations tattered islands of remnant rainforest crest small hills and ravines, hints of what once was. Much of it is second growth forest, still, it reminds me there was once a lush rainforest sweeping over this landscape. Ivo, who grew up here, says it was always this way, always oil palms and rubber and bananas, “even from British times.” He is in his mid thirties, before him there was a different time.