This project will open an office in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon, to conduct environmental and social research in the Dja-Minkebe-Odzala Tri-National Forest, a vast rainforest area that spills over from Cameroon to Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
Thomas B. Smith, professor of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution, and director of the UCLA Center for Tropical Research; and Allen Roberts, professor of World Arts and Cultures and director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center. ($101,000 over two years)
The first study the new "node" will take on is of the hunting of wildlife for bushmeat. Some 8,000 endangered great apes are killed each year for food, both for local consumption and by commercial hunters who sell the meat to consumers in major African cities. It is estimated that at the current rate of slaughter all the wild apes of Africa will be gone in fifteen to fifty years.
The Yaoundé office will have a full-time French-speaking Africanist administrator assisted by Cameroonian staff. It will support research both on the economics of the bushmeat trade and on the social and cultural reasons for this expansion of the ecological disaster. Results will be used to try to save the endangered wildlife of the rainforest, and will be incorporated into the curriculum of the International Institute's interdepartmental degree programs in African Studies and International Development Studies.
The Center for Tropical Research has already established a similar satellite research node in Quito, Ecuador, to study the ecology of Central and South America.
Published: Thursday, March 11, 2004
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