Ossiculum, a monotypic flagship genus for orchid conservation in Central Africa

Durée : 2017 - 2018
Programme : Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
Portée : Nationale
Conservation status
Seed bank

The monotypic genus Ossiculum was first discovered in 1980, inside the Mungo River Forest Reserve (MRFR). During the following quarter century, the sole species, O. aurantiacum, was not collected again, even though several thousand botanical collections have been made in the MRFR area. Recent road construction along the edge of the reserve provides greater accessibility to the area where the species was originally collected, but has also resulted in intensification of forest clearance and encroachment of small-scale cash-crop agriculture. Based on the unique collection, O. aurantiacum was assessed as Critically Endangered by IUCN. However, our recent intensive orchid fieldwork in Cameroon resulted in new collections from two localities in the Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary. In both sites, the species was found in the canopy of large trees in moist lowland forest. The Banyang-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary is widely held to be one of the most biologically important forest complexes in West Central Africa, harboring 325 documented bird species, 33 large mammals and 63 reptiles from 18 families. Plant diversity remains to be extensively studied in this area. Recently, a large industrial-scale palm oil plantation project was developed in the southwest of the sanctuary, isolating the biodiversity it contains and endangering the threatened species living within and around the plantation, including our targeted species, O. aurantiacum.


  • Angraecoid orchid
  • Cameroon
  • Central African rainforest
  • IUCN