Our initial trip to does not position me in any way to fully understand the situation in Cameroon, but I can say from first person observation the bushmeat trade there has no fear of law enforcement and no incentive to stop. Also, do not be misled about the essential nature of bushmeat as a protein source. Even within the tiny Cameroon communities I noticed other options: poultry, for example, is widely available in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Much of the bushmeat I saw is for market, and some of that for export to places like the United States, Canada, Europe, and China. [Sunni Black]
Cameroon serves as one clear example, but the patterns of bushmeat are repeated in pre-industrialized nations throughout the world:
1. Industrialized nations (Europe, North America, East Asia) seek raw materials from pre-industrialized nations, materials such as: oil, lumber, minerals.
2. Corporations from industrialized nations create agreements with the ruling faction (warlord, tribe, religious elite, or elected leader) of the pre-industrialized nation to develop and export the raw materials. Often those agreements are made without the knowledge or consent of the peoples of those nations.
3. Developing access to the raw materials requires cutting deep into virgin forest (or wildlife areas) in the form of roads, pipelines, or waterway expansion. The access routes fragment wildlife areas into smaller sections, endangering contiguous ecosystems, and allowing indigenous populations easier access to rare species of plants and animals.
4. Often the process of resource access and extraction destroys (or destabilizes) the ecosystem: pollution from oil drilling and pipelines, runoff from mining, and clear-cutting timber, are three common consequences. Animals and plants are endangered. Just as importantly, indigenous peoples can no longer live in their own ecosystem in an ecologically sustainable manner.
5. Indigenous peoples become desperate, as they are no longer able to sustain themselves. They often turn to bushmeat to survive, or to sell to exporters excited to provide exotic fare to the powerful elite, both locally and around the globe. Rare and endangered species are served as delicacies in Europe, North America, and East Asia.
6. The decline of the ecosystem becomes increasingly rapid through higher poaching rates, then disturbed predator/prey balances. The faster an ecosystem collapses, the greater temptation for indigenous peoples to grasp at short-term profits by exploiting dwindling resources.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: National Geographic currently features the disturbing and informative Curse of Nigerian Oil chronicling the downward spiral in Cameroon's neighbor.]
Have you encountered bushmeat?
Have you visited or seen any of the examples above?
Post a comment about your experiences in the comments area, below.