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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs