Growing demand for 'bushmeat' threatens great apes
Gorilla populations face extinction due to a growing demand for ape meat in Central Africa
August 12, 1999
Web posted at: 3:18 a.m. EDT (0718 GMT)
By Correspondent Gary Strieker
LOMIE, Cameroon (CNN) -- Deep in the Central African forest
hunting camp, gorilla skulls are trophies for a man who lives there.
He started hunting from the camp more than a year ago. His
targets then were mostly smaller animals, such as porcupines,
monkeys and pangolins.
When he's lucky, the hunter says, he can shoot a gorilla
or a chimpanzee.
Every ape he kills is a bushmeat bonanza.
In most of central Africa, the demand is growing for the meat
of forest animals, popularly known as "bushmeat." The most
desirable bushmeat comes from endangered species, including
elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas.
A gorilla caught earlier in the day is already cut to pieces and smoked
Thousands of hunters earn their living in the bushmeat trade.
They hunt animals that are supposed to be protected by law,
but government officials seem unaware of the growing crisis.
"If that awareness cannot be created in the capitals, it's
very hard to tell the little guy not to pull the trigger,"
said wildlife photographer Karl Amman.
Some conservationists are trying to find ways to reach the
A village chief says no one has killed a gorilla or chimp in
his village in the last year.
That's because the hunters were told they could earn money by
attracting tourists eager to see the animals in their natural
Gorilla skulls are displayed like trophies on the roof of a hunter's home
The concept works only if the surviving apes could be
conditioned to allow human beings to approach them. Most apes
associate people with danger.
If the hunters fail to realize revenue from the venture, they
are likely to return to the bushmeat business.
With advice from conservationists, a few logging companies
are trying to keep poachers out of their forest preserve and
stop their truck drivers from delivering bushmeat to the
"What we can do in this area is have an effect on the trade.
This is what we can do. We can reduce the trade," says
Philippe Auzel, a conservation advisor.
A few people are making desperate attempts to stop the
spiraling carnage of the apes, but many conservationists
believe it is inevitable that gorillas and chimpanzees will
become extinct outside protected parks and reserves.
Even in some protected area, poaching is increasing. The
conservationists say only government intervention can save
the great apes.
"If the government don't (sic) get behind it, nothing can be
done. Nothing." former bushmeat hunter Joseph Melloh says.
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The Bushmeat Project
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Wildlife Fund: European logging companies fuel trade in ape meat
WSPCA: Africa's bushmeat crisis
The Bushmeat Project
Making a Killing: the bushmeat trade
Links - Zairean Civil War and "the New Congo"
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