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Published: August 20th 2012
In Engong village
With community assistant (left), INDEFOR/ZSL technician Pergentino (middle) and one of the hunters we talked with during this trip to the villages
Time flies again..! Almost can’t believe it’s been two years since we started the master’s in Wageningen. Makes me think a lot of those first days and weeks there when I met with some friends with whom very special bonds were created..! And makes me think of autumn, the darkening, still August nights by the lake in Finland, or the tapestry of red, orange and yellow when going for a ride under the beech trees in Wageningen.. Here, the autumn approaches with slight but notable increase in rainfall. This feels rather refreshing after all the heat and dusty streets.
Haven’t been updating the blog too much recently, but one new entry I now set as private.. Those stories are still such that I want to share with all the friends and whoever is interested, but they can only be accessed when I send an invitation to your e-mail, after which you should create an account in travelblog too (not a long process). That allows access to all published entries. You could post me a message here, in fb or via e-mail if you want to get this invitation.
Since last update the past weeks were eventful with primate confiscation
Duiker antelope on sale by the roadside
During this trip to the villages we accompanied the community assistant for his daily job of locating, measuring and recording all bushmeat coming in to the village. This one was still alive at this point - sometimes meat is kept very fresh this way...
that took place in Bata and the transportation of these animals to sanctuaries in Cameroon. It was one of the first times the EG government enforced their existing law that bans the hunting, possession, sale and consumption of all primate species in EG, and overall hopefully one step forward with regards to primate conservation in EG. ZSL and Conservation International assisted the government in the process, so it was very exciting to follow the whole thing happen from close by. There’s a news piece about it on ZSL website: http://www.zsl.org/conservation/news/illegally-kept-baby-gorilla-confiscated-in-equatorial-guinea,987,NS.html
or Ape Action Africa: http://www.apeactionafrica.org/what-we-do/news.html
Currently my supervisor Juliet is visiting England for some well-earned holidays, and Mexico for a conference about primate conservation. There she gave a talk about the bushmeat program in EG and presented some very preliminary results from the socioeconomic research, the data of which I’ve been analyzing for the past few weeks. I did manage to put together some summaries and graphs by the time of the conference.. though now there still remains a lot of work to be done, further analysis and preparing reports. But it is nice to see some things come together..! And interesting to get more understanding into how people
Weighing a pangolin
The community assistant measuring the freshly caught pangolin for purposes of bushmeat monitoring bit of the overall research project
currently make their living in those few communities. When it comes to meat consumption, there is very little livestock raising – a few odd goats and cows in the villages, and a bit more poultry. It used to be more in the past but during the rule of previous president a lot of agricultural activities and fish industry for example were almost ceased, and have not fully recovered since.. In towns and villages frozen (imported) products are bought a lot, chicken and fish especially. It’s a bit cheaper than raised, fresh livestock, the production of which is costly. Fresh bushmeat is very widely used, being one of the easiest sources of protein in the villages. Local fishermen supply fresh fish from the sea and the rivers, though the extent of this activity is very small compared to the commercial fishing operations taking place a bit further out in the sea.
The two students then are working on fisheries and domestic meat production as alternatives to bushmeat hunting; currently interviewing actors along the value chain of those products, ranging from producers to consumers and supermarkets. Now it seems I might start to dig a bit deeper into community forest management,
Braving the waves
These are the kind of boats most local fishermen use for going out to the sea
though this requires a bit different approach, to find out about people’s valuations and the possibilities and challenges of this form of land use as alternative to bushmeat hunting. There’s been a few projects and studies about it in EG, but no truly functional community managed forests yet. That would be very interesting, but will see how the planning goes here..! Other possible alternatives that could be implemented but should still be further studied include non-animal protein foods, ranching of game animals, collecting and marketing of non-timber forest products and increased regulation of bushmeat hunting. Awareness raising and social marketing should be part of any project implementation; perhaps it is easiest to increase interest in products that already are familiar to a community, while somewhere else people might be willing to take on something completely new as an experiment. And for each option it should be evaluated what it might mean for the environment if there’s a change in the intensity or extent of this activity. So many pieces in the equation, and no guarantees if a fine path can be found that connects those pieces in a sustainable way.. that’s worth looking into though.
We visited some fishermen
On the beach in Utonde, Bata
Here we were having a serious discussion about fisheries and conservation in EG while having an afternoon walk on the beach..
with Abdon, other of the students, and I’ve gone along with them to chat with shopkeepers too in the cities. Then we’ve done some trips to the villages to pay salaries to the community assistants and to see how they are doing with their bushmeat monitoring tasks. Part of this bit of the project is hunter interviews; and this is what I once found myself doing as well..! It was nice though, going back to the similar task that I had last year during thesis work. There are these differences again as to how much people hunt and how much of it they sell especially; in some villages it is altogether difficult to have enough food for the family needs, while in other places men can earn substantial revenues from hunting.. It’s interesting, when driving along the main road from Yaoundé to Douala in Cameroon one can maybe see a few odd porcupines (hunting of which is allowed outside protected areas) being sold by the roadside; while when driving from Bata to the interior, one can always see more animals for sale, ranging from porcupines and antelopes to monkeys.. That probably doesn’t tell anything about intensity of hunting but rather might reflect the extent of hunting regulation.
Another intern Shannon arrived a few weeks ago to work with CI on human-elephant conflict. She’s living in the opposite apartment, a lovely personality and it’s great having her as neighbor! I’ve gotten to know both her and Heidi a bit better, and there was also Denis from WCS living downstairs for a few weeks, doing a small study into fisheries along the coastline. With them we’ve had some nice dinners and been going to the beach, sometimes with the dogs as well. I do appreciate having English speaking people around; it’s a bit easier still to talk more lengthy about something complex, or work-related.. but I can also manage quite ok spending a whole day in a company of people who only speak Spanish. I’m so happy for this chance to learn the language. And of course to express or share certain things – those important ones often really, like joy, caring and compassion – words are not necessary…! Usually.. it is lovely to note small differences though, and start to learn to read people from another culture a bit more easily.
I put some more pictures on facebook this time, since on this page it sometimes takes ages to upload them..!
hugs to all, miss many of you - in a good way - and always hope you're all having days filled with happiness and sunlight!
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