Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Ouesso, the largest town in northern Republic of the Congo with roughly 25 000 people, is surrounded by relatively intact tropical rain forests with a range of fauna including elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bongos. Bushmeat accounts for the vast majority of protein in the diet of local people. Hunters largely ignore laws governing the taking of wild game; the harvest is only limited by accessibility and technology.

Inaccessibility of the area around Ouesso has also limited timber exploitation. Of seven companies logging in the area in the 1990s, four went bankrupt under the burden of high transportation costs. However, the area's inaccessibility appears to be changing. In the 1976 image few roads are visible and towns in the area are quite small, with little visibly disturbed forest surrounding them. By 2003, roads have penetrated throughout the area, towns have grown significantly, and, particularly near Pokola, the area of disturbed forest has grown (yellow arrows).

Logging roads, vehicles, and increased job opportunities have been shown to dramatically increase the range in which bushmeat hunting takes place. It also changes hunting from a subsistence activity to a commercial activity with meat being transported as far away as Brazzaville. There is a proposal to build an Ouesso-Brazzaville rail line. Improved transportation at lower cost would likely bring more roads, increased logging, and further increase in the bushmeat trade.
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