Wildlife Diversity in Cocoa / Agricultural Mosaics at the Congo Basin Forest Margin

  • Weinbaum K
  • Sonwa D
  • Weise S
 et al. 
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While forest conversion to agriculture is considered one of the most important threats to biodiversity in the tropics, the over harvesting of wildlife is considered to be an even more important threat in the Central African context. The human population gradient on the northern fringe of the Congo Basin represents the future trajectory of change in land use, bushmeat consumption, and biodiversity if human population growth rates continue. In this preliminary study we conducted wildlife transects (n=35 km), hunter-follow surveys (n=14), and socioeconomic interviews (n=42) in four villages across a gradient of human population density (from peri-urban to remote) in southern Cameroon in an agricultural mosaic consisting of cocoa agroforests, food crops, fallow fields, secondary forest and primary forest. Transect results reveal that mammalian diversity increases with village remoteness. Secondary forest had the largest proportion of animal signs of all land uses. Hunter-follows reveal that people invest more time to hunting in more remote areas, and interviews highlight that bushmeat is a more important source of income in more rural areas, and is more often consumed. Fish is consumed more often than bushmeat, however, and is reportedly becoming more scarce locally along with wildlife. The Food and Agriculture Organization has called the unsustainable hunting of bushmeat “one of the most important food security and biodiversity conservation challenges” in Central Africa and requires further research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Congo Basin
  • Wildlife diversity
  • bushmeat
  • cocoa/agricultural landscape
  • southern Cameroon

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  • Karen Weinbaum

  • Denis J Sonwa

  • Stephen F Weise

  • Justin Brashares

  • Wayne M Getz

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