By Martin Etone
The Central Africa region inhabits over 30 million people. Most of these people rely on bushmeat as an economically important food and income item for their rural and urban families. Statistics show that 1.1 metric tons of bushmeat is eaten in this region annually. The reason for this alarming figure is that as agriculture becomes increasingly unprofitable due to low cash crop prizes and the devaluation of the local currency, many rural people in the Congo Basin have resorted to unsustainable hunting and bushmeat trade. These activities today, expose rare and endangered species such as the elephant, chimpanzees, drills and buffalo to extinction. Poaching and the rising bushmeat trade are therefore causing a major threat to the future of wildlife in this sub-region.
In the Bakossi Landscape, which comprises of the Bakossi National Park and the proposed Muanenguba and Kupe Integral Ecological Reserves in Cameroon, endangered species of wildlife, particularly primates such as chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Drills(Mandrillus leucophaeus), Preuss’s monkey (Cercopithecus preussi), putty nose guenon(C. nictitans) are under great pressure and threatened with extinction due to illegal, non-selective hunting methods and practices and the rising bushmeat trade in the region.
With committed financial support from the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, CAD together with local populations has been redressing these critical issues affecting wildlife resources and people in the Bakossi/Muanenguba forest regions of Cameroon since early 2008. This participatory project aims at raising local awareness about the plight of endangered species, particularly the primates whose numbers are greatly reduced due to unsustainable hunting practices. In addition, it addresses issues of information on the Cameroon wildlife law, empowerment of communities to check illegal killing wildlife as well as improving grass root participation in the reinforcement and implementation of wildlife policies on the ground. Furthermore, the project is tackling poverty through the introduction and promotion of viable alternative micro-enterprises such as livestock production and beekeeping, thus, fostering biodiversity conservation through non-consumptive use by forest dwellers. More....