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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 23 / 43

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ways farmers exploit foragers, especially in the context of external extractive activities, such as logging, gold and diamond industries. Relative interdependence and symbiosis in forager-farmer relations is more likely to occur in rural low population density settings with minimal impacts from a cash economy. As market economies (coffee, gold, diamond, bushmeat trade) expand, farmers are more likely to exploit forest forager labor.

Conservation issues

How can Congo Basin foragers be integrated into African tropical forest reserves and parks?

In the last two decades, scholars from all four national traditions described above have increasingly transcended cataloging ecological data and directed greater attention to the environmental challenges faced by modern forest foragers (Ichikawa 2006; Noss 2001).  Relatedly, international wildlife conservation programs aim to preserve the biodiversity of Africa’s rain forests and support the lifeways of the forest’s human inhabitants.  Unfortunately, such well-meaning programs often position forest foragers “in the crossfire between forest exploitation on the one hand, and attempts to protect the natural environment on the other” (Ichikawa 2004b, 114).  In one case study, Hattori (2005) explains several reasons that Baka foragers of Cameroon are indifferent to nature conservation projects.  From the Baka point of view, such projects do not adequately consider the realities of foraging life; land-use zoning and hunting regulations are incompatible with their mobility.  Further, Baka resist externally imposed environmental education, particularly when farmers play an intermediary role between conservationists and themselves, reinforcing the perception that the Baka are subordinate to neighbouring farmers.  In contrast to this top-down approach, there is a growing consensus that conservation management plans are most effective when they actively engage local communities, including hunter-gatherers, as partners in seeking solutions (Curran and Tshombe 2001, Bailey et

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