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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs