Conservation for Cameroon’s sharks and rays

  • Rays & Skates
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2021
  • Active
Project types
  • Conservation
  • Research

Lionel is gaining insights into Cameroon’s sharks and their conservation status. His focus lies on the country’s north coast, a stretch that runs for more than 160 km at the foot of Mount Cameroon, central Africa’s highest mountain and an active volcano. The region Lionel is researching hosts critical habitats for sharks and rays and is a proposed marine protected area. He is scouring landing sites and fish markets, and gleaning traditional ecological knowledge through interview surveys and questionnaires. His goal is to provide decision-makers with a baseline of shark and ray occurrence data to ensure their long term conservation.

Conservation for Cameroon’s sharks and rays

Lionel Yamb

Project leader
About the project leader

I’m an early-career marine ecologist working in Cameroon with the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development. I have a Master’s degree in marine science from the University of Douala. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by marine life. I was a huge fan of the National Geographic shark documentaries when I was growing up and fell in love with these charismatic ocean predators that to me embodied all the strength and power that other kids of my age saw in their favourite superheroes. The idea of a career in marine conservation occurred to me...

Project details

Improving the conservation status of elasmobranch species (sharks and rays) on the north coast, Cameroon

Key objective

The main aim of this project is to improve the conservation status of sharks and rays on the north coast of Cameroon. More specifically, the project seeks to assess the diversity, abundance and threats to these species in the area, as well as evaluate and raise the level of local awareness.

Why is this important

There is no legislation protecting sharks in Cameroon and people are unaware of their importance to the marine ecosystem. As a result, species are facing serious threats that are driven by overfishing and by-catch. This project will help raise awareness and will generate important data about the ecology and threats to sharks that will help assess their conservation status and improve the current wildlife legislation for long-term conservation and management in the country.


Worldwide sharks and rays, collectively known as elasmobranchs, are at a substantially higher risk of extinction than most other groups of vertebrates. Sharks and rays considered at the greatest risk are those globally classified as Endangered and Critically Endangered, which include great hammerhead sharks and daisy stingrays. While industrial long-line fleets are responsible for most elasmobranch landings worldwide, landings by artisanal fishers are also considerable, especially in developing countries. In Cameroon, research on elasmobranch species is still at a very early stage. Therefore, appropriate management to reduce threats and protect these species is hampered by a lack of data and by the historically low priority given to these fish over many years. Elasmobranchs are at risk because of high levels of targeted fishing and by-catch and they are not covered by the country’s wildlife laws, so they have no legal protection. Most of Cameroon’s fishery data come from the south coast, as several studies have been conducted there. However, we know little about fishery activities on the north coast that can be a threat to sharks as the area has been affected by many years of conflict that prevented research. Although providing reliable scientific data on sharks is very important for the conservation of these species, developing awareness about them and their predicament will also play a critical role. Our project will lay the foundation for conservation and the long-term management of sharks in Cameroon by providing baseline data that will enable the conservation status of these species to be assessed and will guide future conservation action in the area, while also serving as a decision-making tool for wildlife managers.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • To assess the diversity and relative abundance of sharks and rays species on the north coast of Cameroon.
  • To evaluate, map and quantify direct and indirect threats, as well as potential threats, to shark and ray species on the north coast of Cameroon.
  •  To assess the level of local awareness about sharks and rays.
  • To increase local awareness by reaching out to at least 70% of the people living around the most important landing areas along Cameroon’s northern coastline.