By Divine Ntaryike
From Cameroon’s hinterlands to the urban centers, vendors openly display smoked monkeys, gorillas, snakes, antelopes, crocodiles and more from the country’s receding forests. For several years, the lucrative trade in meat from wild animals has thrived, despite anti-poaching laws.
Conservation groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Society warn that at the current rate, critically endangered species will be completely wiped out over the next two decades.
Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Cameroon’s Minister of Forests and Wildlife, says the situation is outrageous: "We see people selling bushmeat everywhere, anywhere, in public places, along the roadsides. And it’s more or less putting a shame on our dignity and our commitment to fight illegal poaching."
The government has worked aggressively to stop poachers. The Ministry of Forests and Wildlife has been working with the police, the army and conservation organizations to crack down on the trade.
The government has prohibited the transport of bushmeat to markets on trains, timber trucks and pubic transportation. Also, a number of radio campaigns have been conducted to try to sensitize people to the importance of the issue. But observers say the campaigns have failed to stop the high demand for the meat.
Tons of it continue to reach the markets and enrich traders, who take advantage of the absence of security patrols in remote areas or bribe their ways through checkpoints.
Wildlife meat traders say the trade cannot be curbed until the government provides traders with other ways to earn a living.
One woman, who did not wish to be identified, said she is quite aware that bushmeat trade severely endangers protected animals. But she said that she needs the money from the business to send her children to school and buy medication. She has been the sole income earner in the family since her husband lost his job with a logging company last year, the result of the global economic crisis. More....