News / Africa

Cameroon Government Regulates Bushmeat Trade

Wildlife conservationists say in Cameroon, protected species are more endangered than ever before. Experts say the continuing popularity of wildlife meat, or bushmeat, is encouraging armed poachers to gun down hundreds of thousands of animals. But the government has introduced new initiatives to halt the illegal trade.

Vendor sells bats and other bush meat in market outside Yaounde, Cameroon
Vendor sells bats and other bush meat in market outside Yaounde, Cameroon

 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." 

Boy holds an antelope in Bertuoua, southeastern Cameroon
Boy holds an antelope in Bertuoua, southeastern Cameroon

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.

A conservation group, The Last Great Apes, or LAGA, says hunters armed with illegally owned high caliber rifles have formed networks to kill 3,000 gorillas, 400 chimpanzees and 4,000 elephants yearly for meat and ivory in Cameroon and neighboring countries.

Boy holding bush meat (squirrel) in Bertoua in southeastern Cameroon
Boy holding bush meat (squirrel) in Bertoua in southeastern Cameroon

Cameroon’s wildlife law dates back to 1994.  It strictly prohibits the sale and trafficking of endangered species, with penalties ranging from fines of half a billion francs [about one million US dollars] to life imprisonment.  But administrative red tape delayed the implementation of the law until six years ago, when the first violator was prosecuted and jailed.

Ever since, LAGA has been helping the government enforce the legislation.  It uses undercover agents to track down illegal wildlife dealers and hand them over to prosecutors.  Gradually, things are changing:  an average two persons are arrested, fined or jailed every month for breaking the wildlife law.

The clampdown against unauthorized bushmeat trade has entered another phase.  Elvis Ngolle Ngolle says the government introduced a new program at the beginning of the year:  "Bushmeat should only be sold in Cameroon in markets or public places that have been designated by local authorities.  That way our eco-guards will be able to move around to ensure that any meat which is not sold in designated markets will be considered illegal," he says.

Two women vendors sell bush meat stews at market near Yaounde, Cameroon
Two women vendors sell bush meat stews at market near Yaounde, Cameroon
 

The bushmeat that will be legal to sell includes species that are not endangered including cane rats.   The government will penalize  anyone who sells meats from elephants,  monkeys and other protected animals.

Other idea being considered by the government and partner conservation organizations include the creation of farms to breed wild animals, like cane rats and porcupines, for sale.  They also propose working with traditional chiefs and their subjects to protect threatened flora and fauna.

The government is also recruiting, training and better arming forest guards to make them more effective.  And it’s working to provide other jobs for bushmeat traders in farming, including in the development of cocoa and coffee plantations.




                 



      


You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid