Commercial hunting for bushmeat in Africa continues unchecked in many areas, putting wildlife at risk of extinction. Experts say logging and other industries increase that risk. Richard Carroll is the managing director of the Congo Basin for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). From Washington, in this 4th of a 5 part series, he told Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Cole Mallard that development opens forests to large immigrant populations, disturbing the ecological and social balance.
Carroll says logging is lucrative for the six main Congo Basin countries that have dense forests. These are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, DRC and Congo-Brazzaville. But he says a moratorium on logging in the DRC because of conflict has so far kept the country from gearing up to its full logging potential. Many country economies rely heavily on concession fees paid by loggers.
The WWF official says there’s also bushmeat hunting in areas where logging is not present. For example in the DRC, people will travel several hundred kilometers by bicycle or dugout canoe to get into forests that still have wildlife. One such example is Salonga National Park.
Carroll says the military in some countries is also responsible for bushmeat hunting, poaching animals because of limited rations and their need to live off the land during conflict.
He says oil production and mining can also have a major effect on bushmeat hunting. In Gabon, for instance, the Chinese are mining a large iron ore deposit. Carroll says they plan to build a new railway to the coast, which will open the forest to bushmeat hunting to feed railway workers and miners. He says similar situations exist in Cameroon and the DRC.