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BUSHMEAT: A SILENT ECOLOGICAL DISASTER
This report strives to illustrate an objective reality: the trade and, effectively, the progressive depletion of fauna in Chad and Cameroon, as well as the struggle against poaching led by organizations in these countries and also in France.
This work has been created with the help of the French association Sauvegarde Faunas Sauvage, and with the assistance of the organization’s president Jean Paul Burget who, for almost 10 years, has bravely fought against poaching. He has infiltrated the branches of the illegal trade of protected fauna and ivory and has helped organizations in these countries arrest the offenders.
In Cameroon, the consumption of protected game is a cultural habit, as it is in many other African countries. While commerce is in theory, forbidden, it is a tolerated practice. Bushmeat can be found and purchased in the markets of Cameroon’s urban centers where is it discreetly displayed. Sales are made to the sheltered eyes of the authorities, but they can be seen, as these photos (sometimes made with the help of a hidden camera) show.
While these images may be shocking for the Western public, they are not foreign to the eyes of the citizens of Cameroon or Chad. What this work strives to underline, is that the consummation of bushmeat has transcended its traditional function, and now has assumed an industrial dimension due to the migration rural populations to large urban centers. If no action is taken, the fauna of these two countries, and that of many others countries in Africa will be at risk of disappearing, creating an inevitable environmental disaster.
An economic aspect is also illustrated in this report; one that relates to the export of this game to Europe, where importing and consumption is strictly forbidden. Done in order to satisfy the need of the diaspora, there exist tremendous economic interests. Every year, around 300 tons of African game arrive illegally France. As it travels from the African continent to Europe, the price increases 500%.
For the ivory the headline is clear — the principal destination of its clandestine trade is China.
It should be recognized that Chad is fighting against poaching. But in other countries, such as in Cameroon, this fight is not as popular. A question may be raised: what is the massacre of 500 elephants worth, for example, what happened in Cameroun in the park of Boudandjida in 2012 by Sudanese poachers, when compared to the killing of 2,000 people by the hand of Boko Haram of in the village of Kolofata in north Cameroon in 2014? A large part of the revenue of the illegal ivory trade (around €700 per kilo) goes to sustain the terrorist organization of Boko Haram.
The answer lies in the complicated entwinement of private affairs, undercover economies, and the egoism and corruption that feeds the continuous massacre of animals that is effectively tied to the massacre of human beings. The evidence of this link is not widely known but it is shown often in the investigations of CONAC (National Anti-corruption Commission of Cameroon).
It is difficult to speak out, but it is even more difficult to remain silent.