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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Pygmies' bushmeat trade woe
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

The lucrative trade in bushmeat is robbing the pygmies of central Africa of their birthright, a British campaigner says.

Bushmeat on sale   TVE
It's not to feed starving people - it's where people will pay more for bushmeat than for domesticated meat
Jane Goodall
Dr Jane Goodall, a world authority on chimpanzees, says the bushmeat hunters leave behind them empty, silent forests.

Dr Goodall says the hunting, a recent development, is completely unsustainable.

Much of the affected area has been designated a world heritage site by the United Nations.

Dr Goodall's warning features in Benefits Beyond Boundaries, a film made by Television Trust for the Environment (TVE) in its Earth Report series, shown on BBC World.

Global recognition

The film is part of TVE's coverage of the fifth World Parks Congress, organised by IUCN-The World Conservation Union. It is being held in the South African city of Durban from 8 to 17 September.

TVE visited five parks, all world heritage sites, places or areas designated by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) for their global importance.

Pygmy group   TVE
Forest people find little left
One is in the central African forest, which includes parts of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.

It is the world's second largest area of tropical rainforest, and home to species including white rhinos, mountain gorillas, bonobos (closely related to chimpanzees) and okapis.

TVE says logging is destroying four million hectares (10 m acres) of the forest annually, and also imperilling previously intact wilderness.

Dr Goodall tells the film crew: "The real big trouble has come in the last 10 years or so as the big multinational companies, particularly European companies, are opening up the forest with their roads.

Feeding the bourgeoisie

"Hunters from the towns can use the logging trucks to go along the roads... they shoot everything from elephants down to gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, monkeys, birds - everything.

Dead gorilla group   TVE
Gorillas: Food for the urban rich
"They smoke it, they load it on to the trucks and take it into the cities, where it's not to feed starving people - it's where people will pay more for bushmeat than for domesticated meat...

"There are huge camps being established for the loggers and their families, their hangers-on, so that you may have 2-3,000 people who weren't there before.

"The pygmy hunters who've lived in harmony with the forest world for hundreds of years are now being given guns and ammunition and paid to shoot for the logging camps. And that's absolutely not sustainable.

"The animals have gone, the forest is silent, and when the logging camps finally move, what is left for the indigenous people? Nothing."

No other home

A village chief, Makubasi Matemano, tells TVE: "This forest is important to us because our ancestors lived here. It is our home.

Giant otter   TVE
Surinam's giant river otter
"It is the only place we can live. Everything we need comes from the forest: we need to keep it."

In DR Congo, a grant from the UN Foundation (UNF) is helping to pay forest rangers who for years have worked for nothing at all.

One, Abedi Selemani, says: "We are here to help protect and keep our forest. We enjoy our work, and every bit of help is very welcome."

On the poachers' trail

The film also features UNF's work, with Unesco and the Charles Darwin Foundation, to establish a quarantine inspection system and a project to get rid of alien species in the Galapagos islands.

UNF and several partners are working in Surinam to manage a reserve threatened by poaching: species found there include the jaguar, blue frog, cock of the rock, and giant river otter.

Other world heritage sites featured in the film are in Mexico, Guatemala, and Cambodia.

EU fishing 'drives bushmeat trade'
29 May 03  |  Science/Nature
The cost of bushmeat
04 Jun 02  |  Science/Nature
World wildlife warning
08 May 01  |  Science/Nature

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