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Bonobo Poaching: I Find Bushmeat Market in the Middle of Congo
July 27, 2007, 5:18 pm
Filed under: The Bushmeat Crisis

by Ashley Vosper

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Adult female shot near Obenge, on the Lomami River. Lack of fishing is a sign that the locals aren’t originally from here. Did they come with the Belgians or the Arab slave traders?

When I asked where he had killed her, Jafari, the hunter, waved in a general sort of way to the northeast, across the Lomami. I did not say much else. He was proud and let me take a picture.

Jafari killed this adult female with his old Belgian gun. Over the last few days I have heard other shots from the village. I have also seen monkey snares in the forest nearby. These, too, could catch bonobo.

There is much more hunting than I recognized at first. Yesterday a pirogue came back with an elephant chopped into hunks. There are war guns, lots of them, left in this country after the long rebellion. An AK47 is just 300 dollars in Kisangani. That is the weapon that was used to kill the elephant.

There are many more animals killed than are needed to feed this small village. Apparently a few women-traders travel across the forest from villages on the Lualaba. They bring salt, sugar, cloth and probably shotgun shells. Then they carry back bushmeat.

How often are Bonobo Killed? I don’t know. How far away do Jafari and his friends hunt? I don’t know.

Strange that they can be so poor here and yet they can empty the forest of what the world considers its greatest riches. And still they stay so poor. The kids in this village don’t go to school – there is none – and, of course, there is no health center at all.

Is it possible to make a difference – for the bonobo and the people? I am sure it is.

Jafari with gun (see below)

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