Awareness raising targets commercial wildmeat sector in Cameroon
Yaoundé, Cameroon, December 2015—more than 70 wildmeat traders and sellers including restaurant owners learned about the legislation in place to protect wildlife from overharvesting for the wildmeat trade during a meeting hosted by Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) supported by WWF and TRAFFIC earlier this month.
Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, was selected because of the high demand for wildmeat in urban centres while the meeting was purposely held in the lead up to Christmas after previous studies had demonstrated how wildmeat sales peak in the region during festive periods.
More than 70 participants involved in the wildmeat sector, including harvesters and traders, learned which species of protected animals to avoid so as not to encourage poaching or other illegal activities. They also received information on the legislation that exists to protect certain species in international trade and were encouraged to seek alternative sustainable sources of protein. Divisional Officers and Mayors learned about national and regional policies in place and legal frameworks governing the harvesting and commercialization of the wildmeat trade.
Cameroon is rich in biodiversity and home to many charismatic wildlife species. It is also one of the Central African nations with elaborate wildlife protection laws. However, the recent expansion of an illegal wildmeat trade, mainly fuelled by demand from urban centres and Asia, has taken a heavy toll on populations of some species used to supply the trade from Cameroon.
“The protection of wild animal and plant resources concerns us all and therefore each of us needs to participate in the global efforts to prevent the poaching of these resources in order to put in place measures to ensure their sustainable management,” said Mr Issola Dipanda, a MINFOF Regional Delegate.
Mrs Yemele Jiofack of MINFOF highlighted the importance of laws promoting wise and sustainable use of wildlife resources and the consequences of disobeying them.
Regional delegates from the Ministries of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries and Agriculture and Rural Development spoke about alternative means to generate income and where to source small grants to fund these alternatives.
A TRAFFIC presentation examined the state of illegal trade in certain wild animals at the regional and international levels. “Curbing the illegal wildmeat trade requires co-operation and collaboration at all levels, especially at the site level where these species are harvested,” said TRAFFIC’s Communications Officer, Louisette Sylvie Ngo Yebel.
A number of TRAFFIC materials were distributed to delegates at the meeting including a presentation flyer and a factsheet about the Central African Bushmeat Monitoring System (French acronym: SYVBAC).