You might have seen the posts on the blog and Facebook Page about CERCOPAN’s implementation of livelihoods projects in Agoi Ibami, Iko Esai, and Owai. But why are we doing this? What does it have to do with primate conservation? Let me explain…..
The forest communities Iko Esai, Agoi Ibami and Owai are highly dependent on the forest for income and protein. Hunters and non-timber forest product (NTFP) collectors make extended trips into the forest in search for wild meat and other NTFPs (e.g. salad, bushmango). Some of their catch is consumed by the family, what remains is sold. At the same time, farmers exert pressure on remaining forest by clearing tracts of land for new farms, and often use snares to catch animals that wander out of the forest in search of food on their farms.
The alternative livelihoods projects that are implemented by CERCOPAN are targeted towards those groups with a disproportionally large impact on the rainforest and wildlife. By offering hunters, NTFP collectors, and farmers alternative sources of income and protein, CERCOPAN creates an environment where sustainable exploitation of the rainforest´s resources is possible.
The local conservation bylaws, agreed between CERCOPAN and the communities, include many stipulations, including a ban on primate hunting and a ban on the use of snares. However, can we expect people that live in poverty, struggling for their survival, to not shoot a monkey when the chance presents itself? By providing alternative sources of income and meat, sustainable and selective hunting is made possible. If they are occupied elsewhere, and have additional income, hunters might just forego to make that kill. And if they don’t, there is the CERCOPAN patrol team to take appropriate action.
This year, CERCOPAN has been able to implement alternative livelihoods projects in Owai, Iko Esai, and Agoi Ibami with financial support from IUCN France. The first round of implementation is ongoing. In this round, around 60 community members will be set up and trained in different alternative livelihoods projects. A second round of projects will follow in 2013. The projects for each community have been selected in a participatory process and based upon experiences of CERCOPAN and other NGOs in different countries. Each community is different, and the projects reflect that. Iko Esai has chosen for a project involving domestic meat supply, which will provide a source of income to the group and will provide an alternative to wild meat. In Owai, fifteen snail farms and ten beehives have been set up. The snails are an excellent protein source and can be sold in the village, and the farmers have known a productive first season since April. The bees will produce honey that can be sold.
Over the coming months, we will keep providing updates on the implementation of these alternative livelihoods projects. Stay tuned!