Top > African Study Monographs > ASM Supplementary Issue Back Number > No.33 (2006)
Ecology and Change of the Hunter-Gatherer Societies in the Western Congo Basin

Edited by Mitsuo ICHIKAWA and Hirokazu YASUOKA


pp.1-2

Preface

Mitsuo ICHIKAWA and Hirokazu YASUOKA

PDF file of body text (444 KB)


pp. 3-20

PROBLEMS IN THE CONSERVATION OF RAINFORESTS IN CAMEROON

Mitsuo ICHIKAWA
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
   The economic crisis and structural adjustments from late 1980s to early 1990s accelerated logging operations and agricultural expansion in Cameroon, which resulted in a massive destruction of the tropical forest in the southeastern part of the country. As such a forest destruction was posing local as well as global environmental problems, and attracted international attention, various projects have been promoted to save the forest ecosystems in Cameroon. While some of these projects are attempting new conservation measures, emphasizing active participation by local inhabitants, they are still facing difficulties for several reasons. This essay first examines the problems involved in the Western protectionism and nature aesthetics that prevailed in the conservation schemes of the last century. It also demonstrates that the new types of conservation attempts in the area, such as "community forest" and "adaptive management," have not attained satisfactory results yet, due largely to insufficient information of the multiplex relationships between people and nature in the forest ecosystem and of complex ethnic relationships between hunter-gatherers and farmers in the area. In order to properly understand the relationships of people with forest in a wider social and economic context, three types of ecological investigation are proposed here; (1) cultural ecology, to show how people's life and culture depend on the forest and its resources, (2) historical ecology, to evaluate short- and long-term impacts of human activities on the forest environment, and (3) political ecology to illustrate the relationship between the forest-related activities on the local level and the political and economic situations on the national and international levels.

Key Words: Forest destruction; Western protectionism; Local problems; People-forest relationships; Ethnic relationships.

PDF file of body text (620 KB)


pp. 21-28

A BRIEF REPORT ON A LARGE MOUNTAIN-TOP COMMUNITY OF DIOSCOREA PRAEHENSILIS IN THE TROPICAL RAINFOREST OF SOUTHEASTERN CAMEROON

Hiroaki SATO
Hamamatsu University School of Medicine

ABSTRACT
   Wild yam tubers have been considered to be key food to resolving the question of whether hunter-gatherers could live independently of agriculture in a tropical rainforest, or what made it possible. Above all Dioscorea praehensilis is known as the most reliable staple food in Africa. In February 2000, the author found a large community of D. praehensilis on the upper part of a small mountain in southeastern Cameroon. Using the belt-transect method, the author estimated the density of stems and the productivity of edible tubers at 147 per hectare and 118 kg per hectare, respectively. These values are much higher than found in other studies. This mountain is one of several areas which local Baka hunter-gatherers recognize as rich in D. praehensilis. Such places would have made it possible for old hunter-gatherers who had never lived in the forest interior to have done so.

Key Words: Baka hunter-gatherers; Wild yam; Dioscorea praehensilis; Tropical rainforest; The yam question.

PDF file of body text (634 KB)


pp. 29-48

UTILIZATION OF MARANTACEAE PLANTS BY THE BAKA HUNTER-GATHERERS IN SOUTHEASTERN CAMEROON

Shiho HATTORI
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
   The Baka hunter-gatherers of the Cameroonian rainforest use plants of the family Marantaceae for a variety of purposes, as food, in material culture, as "medicine" and as trading item. They account for as much as 40% of the total number of uses of plants in Baka material culture. The ecological background of such intensive uses in material culture reflects the abundance of Marantaceae plants in the African rainforest. This article describes the frequent and diversified uses of Marantaceae plants, which comprise a unique characteristic in the ethnobotany of the Baka hunter-gatherers and other forest dwellers in central Africa.

Key Words: Baka hunter-gatherers; Marantaceae; Multi-purpose plants; Rainforest.

PDF file of body text (2.139 KB)


pp. 49-69

PERCEPTION OF HUNTING, GATHERING AND FISHING TECHNIQUES OF THE BAKOLA OF THE COASTAL REGION, SOUTHERN CAMEROON

Godefroy NGIMA MAWOUNG
The University of Yaoundé I

ABSTRACT
   While the BaKola (sin. Nkola) are known as one of the "Pygmy" groups in the forest regions of central Africa, their subsistence activities have not yet been described in details, unlike other groups of "Pygmies" in the central African region. This paper is thus to present the basic data on their tools and techniques for hunting, gathering and on the social representations of these techniques, and to examines the reasons why up to the 21st century they have been maintaining their distinctive lifestyle as hunter-gatherers, through analyzing their roles played and the symbolism represented by their activities in the multi-ethnic local community of the coastal region of southern Cameroon. In particular, it demonstrates that their trade, gift-exchanges, important rituals, and other aspects of their social and economic life are based on the three major traditional activities, hunting, gathering and fishing.

Key Words: Bakola; Hunting; Gathering; Fishing; Techniques; Tools; Socio-cultural role; Woman's role.

PDF file of body text (1.845 KB)


pp. 71-93

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP AMONG BABONGO IN SOUTHERN GABON

Naoki MATSUURA
Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
   Largely because the Babongo in central and southern Gabon sedentarized and adopted agriculture, they have not attracted much attention of researchers who are interested in hunting-gathering activities and relationships with the natural environment. Many aspects of their livelihood and social life still remain unclear. This article, therefore, describes and analyzes Babongo settlement distribution, residential pattern, subsistence and economic activities, residential mobility, visiting activities and social relationships based on quantitative data collected in the field. In particular, their sedentary lifestyle and social relationships are discussed, focusing on the interethnic relationship with the neighboring Massango farmers.

Key Words: Gabon; Babongo; Massango; Sedentarization; Interethnic relations; Assimilation.

PDF file of body text (990 KB)


pp. 95-120

THE SUSTAINABILITY OF DUIKER (CEPHALOPHUS SPP.) HUNTING FOR THE BAKA HUNTER-GATHERERS IN SOUTHEASTERN CAMEROON

Hirokazu YASUOKA
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
   Logging operations brought a boom in the bushmeat trade and wildlife management projects into the heart of the forest in southeastern Cameroon. Hunting pressure on duikers (Cephalophus spp.) reached an unsustainable level because of the intensified hunting in areas close to roads. Control of the bushmeat trade was then reinforced, and the hunting subsided. The excessive control of hunting, however, could negatively affect the standard of living of the local people because animal meat has long been a major source of protein for forest dwellers in the Congo Basin. Before the opening of logging roads, hunting pressure remained within a sustainable level through an extensive use of hunting grounds covering a large area. Therefore, for the local people to maintain their standard of living, it is essential to grant them the right to consume animals for their subsistence in an extensive manner over a large area, as well as to impose some controls on the bushmeat trade.

Key Words: Bushmeat; Congo Basin; Logging roads; Rainforest; Wildlife management.

PDF file of body text (2.227 KB)


pp. 121-142

THE IMPACT OF CASH AND COMMODITIZATION ON THE BAKA HUNTER-GATHERER SOCIETY IN SOUTHEASTERN CAMEROON

Koichi KITANISHI
Faculty of Education, Yamaguchi University

ABSTRACT
   The Baka in southeastern Cameroon are one of the "Pygmy" hunter-gatherer groups living in the tropical rainforest of central Africa. Since the 1950s, they have gradually adopted cultivation and sedentarization, as well as the use of money and commoditization. One of the characteristics of the Baka monetary activities is the importance of direct and immediate consumption, similar to that in hunting-gathering activities. Small amounts of money are used differently from the way large amounts of money are used. The former is used for daily goods, and the latter is for bride-wealth. The limited usage of bills of high denomination prevents inequality across the society of the Baka in spite of the large difference in their cash income. But there is a potential for capitalistic use of money and inequality through the commoditization of labor among the Baka. In the 1950s, the Baka were under farmer control in term of the circulation of money and European products, which enlarged social and economic dominance of farmers over the Baka. However, the adoption of cultivation of Bakas' fields, the increased importance of the Baka as cacao and coffee field laborers, and the advance of logging companies, loosened farmer control of money and European products. These circumstances have helped the Baka keep relative autonomy in their economy and society, compared to other Pygmy groups at present.

Key Words: Baka; Hunter-gatherer; Money; Commoditization; Social change; Equality.

PDF file of body text (680 KB)