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Wild meat hunting and use by sedentarised Baka Pygmies in southeastern Cameroon

Avila Martin, Eva and Ros Brull, Guillermo and Funk, Stephan M and Luiselli, Luca and Okale, Robert and Fa, John E (2020) Wild meat hunting and use by sedentarised Baka Pygmies in southeastern Cameroon. PeerJ, 8. e9906-e9906.

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Abstract

As a result of sedentarisation many Baka Pygmies have changed their mobility patterns away from nomadic lifestyles to living in roadside villages. These settled groups are increasingly dependent on cultivated foods but still rely on forest resources. The level of dependence on hunting of wild animals for food and cash, as well as the hunting profiles of sedentarised Pygmy groups is little known. In this study we describe the use of wild meat in 10 Baka villages along the Djoum-Mintom road in southeastern Cameroon. From data collected from 1,946 hunting trips by 121 hunters, we show that most trips are of around 13 hours and a median of eight hours. A mean ± SD of 1.15 ± 1.11 animal carcasses are taken in a single trip; there was a positive correlation between duration of trips and carcasses. A total of 2,245 carcasses of 49 species of 24 animal families were taken in the study; species diversity was similar in all villages except one. Most hunted animals were mammals, with ungulates contributing the highest proportion. By species, just over half of the animal biomass extracted by all hunters in the studied villages was provided by four mammal species. Most animals were trapped (65.77% ± 16.63), followed by shot with guns (22.56% ± 17.72), other methods (8.69% ± 6.96) and with dogs (2.96% ± 4.49). A mean of 7,569.7 ± 6,103.4 kg yr−1 (2,080.8–19,351.4) were extracted per village, giving 75,697 kg yr−1 in total, which is equivalent to 123 UK dairy cattle. In all villages, 48.07% ± 17.58 of animals hunted were consumed by the hunter and his family, around 32.73% ± 12.55, were sold, followed by a lower percentage of carcasses partially sold and consumed (19.21% ± 17.02). Between 60% and 80% of carcasses belonged to the “least concern” category, followed by “near threatened”, “vulnerable” and, rarely “endangered”. The only endangered species hunted was the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). We suggest that hunting is a critical activity that provides a vital source of food for our study communities. Measured wild meat extraction levels are likely to be sustainable if hunter densities do not increase.

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