Afica Unite – Consider that, barring Gabon, the Nile perch, or one of its cousins, is found in most river and lake systems in tropical Africa north of the equator (and those parts of the Congo and Nile basins south of the equator). It covers an area of about 8 million square kilometers within 25 African countries. The Nile perch evolved as a riverine species and can grow to over 200 pounds; it is one of the world’s freshwater giants. Classic Nile Perch habitat is found in the rivers of what are called the Sahelo-Sudanian Savannah Zone. These are watercourses that run high and murky during the rainy season and then almost stop flowing between deep, clear pools during the dry season. The geographical and seasonal conditions make perch extremely vulnerable to overfishing by an exploding human population that consists of some of the poorest people in the world. This population, in order to survive, has reduced most of the Sahelo-Sudanian savannahs to altered landscapes where more than 95% of the biomass of indigenous wildlife and fishes has been removed. Conservationists currently label much of the savannah habitat, of which Nile perch are a part, as severely impacted, to the point of being endangered to critical. The level of habitat degradation and depletion across an unimaginably large swathe of Africa is hard to comprehend without witnessing it firsthand.
Preserving the Fragile Oasis: Gassa Camp’s Conservation Efforts in Sahelo-Sudanian Africa
Based on our work in Africa, we believe that there are unlikely to be more than five relatively intact river basins in Sahelo-Sudanian Africa. By intact, we mean areas where all of the ecosystem services are fully functioning. For example, having a significant hippo population to ensure a constant flow of nutrients from the land to the water, and where soil organisms (e.g., earthworms) contribute to maximum rainfall retention and groundwater recharge to maintain dry-season flows, etc. In short, intact areas are those where all the integral, living, organic, and physical elements are present and interacting. The point is, healthy environments are isolated and dwindling before our eyes, and a journey to Gassa Camp in Cameroon is an opportunity to see a piece of Africa that is an extremely rare representation of how vast areas of the continent used to be. It’s literally time travel, and not a second too late. Through small groups of dedicated fly fishermen and women, Gassa Camp is making significant efforts to help conserve this vulnerable area, its fauna, and flora.
Sustainable Fly Fishing for Conservation: Gassa Camp’s Impact in Sahelo-Sudanian Africa
Since its founding in 2018, Gassa Camp has been adding incredible value to the area through sustainable and well-managed fly fishing. This approach contributes significant funds towards conservation and anti-poaching efforts in the area. Funds from Gassa Camp guests are dedicated to private conservation efforts such as the Faro Conservation Association and the employment of seasonal lodge staff, as well as full-time anti-poaching teams from the local communities. Gassa Camp also contributes substantial funds to national parks and wildlife authorities through annual leases, licenses, and taxes.
Unforgettable Fly Fishing in Pristine African Habitats: Gassa Camp’s Conservation Impact
In a fishing context, it is only in healthy habitats that one is going to have good fishing. And when one can have that experience, casting flies with one’s feet on the ground, Africa’s sights and sounds flooding one’s senses in one moment and being painfully schooled in a Nile perch’s brutal hit-and-run in the next, then it becomes a one-of-a-kind fishing experience. In addition, and possibly more important, Gassa Camp guests are making a direct contribution to the protection and management of this extremely high-priority conservation area.