Field Seminar
   Cameroon Field Station and WWF Joint Seminar
  December 14, 2003 at WWF office in Yokadouma, East Province
  KIMURA Daiji (ASAFAS: Division of African Area Studies)
  On December 10, 2003, a seminar was held in WWF’s office in Yokadouma, the capital city of Boumba-Ngoko Division in the East Province of the Republic of Cameroon. It was jointly organized by WWF, GTZ (the German government’s aid organization, equivalent to JICA in Japan), MINEF (Cameroon’s Ministry of Environment and Forests) and the Cameroon Field Station. Yokadouma is a local city, and it takes a whole day to get there by car from Yaounde, the capital of the country (Photo 1).
Photo 1: Scenery in Yokadouma
  A research team on African tropical rainforests, centered around Kyoto University, has been conducting research on the Baka Pygmy Pygmies hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists in Southeastern Cameroon since 1993. WWF and other organizations, for their part, are continuing activities to protect rainforests in this region and have often contacted Japanese researchers. The idea this time was, at a seminar to be held at WWF, to have Japanese researchers make presentations on their achievements and then exchange views. Graduate student HATTORI Shiho (year of enrollment: FY2000) of the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), acted as coordinator, and the date for the seminar was set for December 10.
  From the Japanese side, HATTORI and SHIKATA Kagari (year of enrollment: FY2000) made presentations, while KIMURA Daiji (ASAFAS faculty member) and OISHI Takanori (graduate student in the Faculty of Science, Kyoto University Graduate School of Science) participated in the discussion. From the Cameroonian side, participants included members of WWF, GTZ, MINEF as well as people from local NGOs, clergy members and graduate students from Yaounde University (Njounan Olivier, a graduate student, made a presentation at the seminar in September this year, which he wanted to submit for publication in African Study Monographs, the journal of the Center for African Area Studies, and we discussed the necessary procedures for this.) There were more than 20 people in the audience at the peak time of the presentations, and it seems likely that about 30 people took part in all. There were four women participants (Photo 2).
Photo 2: Commemorative photo of the seminar participants
  The presentations were made using PowerPoint. We were planning to use a liquid crystal projector, but unfortunately it was out of order and a monitor had to be placed in front of the presenter (Photo 3). Though the Japanese students used English for their presentations, summary interpretations in French were provided by WWF, as many of the participants were French speakers.
Photo 3: A panoramic view during a presentation
  The title of Ms. HATTORI’s presentation was ”Natural Conservation Projects and Hunter-gatherers’ Life in the Cameroonian Rainforest” (Photo 4). First she analyzed the life of the Baka Pygmy Pygmies in view of their livelihood activities, food and material culture, and then clarified the role played by the forest in their lives (Photo 5). Based on specific data, she drew the attention of the audience to the discrepancy between the zoning of the wildlife reserves and the actual land use pattern of the Baka Pygmy Pygmies, as well as that between the hunting regulations for forest conservation and the Baka people’s hunting activities. She pointed out the need to revise the nature preservation plan to suit the actual lives of the Baka Pygmy Pygmies.
Photo 4: Ms. HATTORI makes her presentation

Photo 5: Ms. HATTORI conducts research in a Baka settlement
  The discussion that followed focused on the definition of “poaching,” meaning “hunting that should be restricted.” Under the current preservation plan by WWF, MINEF, etc., legal hunting is limited to activities that satisfy the following requirements: (1) game animals are not sold to the outside; and (2) only traditional hunting methods are used to catch animals, including bows, spears and traps made of plant materials. However, the presenter’s opinion was that in Baka society, which has already been permeated by the cash economy, people should be allowed to sell game meat for cash to a certain extent, for the sake of maintaining their livelihoods. The participants did not reach agreement on this point. Further an opinion was expressed challenging the generalization of the research findings, as the presenter’s research field, Malea Ancien, is in a remote area where a motorway only recently opened. The participants, however, were in general agreement that the Baka Pygmy Pygmies should somehow be integrated into the forest conservation plans.
  The title of Ms. SHIKATA’s presentation was “Sustainable Plantain Production by Shifting Cultivation in the Secondary Forest of Southeastern Cameroon” (Photo 6). After describing the system of shifting cultivation primarily of plantain growing of the Bangando farmers, she argued that the system enables sustainable use of the forests.
Photo 6: SHIKATA Kagari makes her presentation
  The discussion afterward concerned whether or not shifting cultivation can be sustainable (Photo 7). Many of the Cameroonian participants saw traditional shifting cultivation as a dangerous method that impoverishes the soil, and some pointed out that the groves of parasol trees that grow after the cultivation serve as an indicator of the level of soil deterioration. It was interesting to note the clear contrast in this respect between the Cameroonian participants and the basic attitude of the Japanese researchers, who are attempting to positively evaluate the traditional African way of farming. One of the seminar participants, who was ethnically Bangando, made the specific point that the long dry season begins in November rather than in December as stated by the presenter.
Photo 7: The participants discuss the presentation
  The seminar began at 10 a.m., and following a light lunch, ended shortly before 3 p.m. Pamphlets published by Yokadouma WWF often contain politically-considerate articles which read something like, “such-and-such meeting took place at such-and-such place.” However, the presentations at this seminar apparently impressed the Cameroonian participants afresh, as they were based on specific research data.

The convening of this seminar was broadcast by a local FM radio on the day before it was held. Ms. HATTORI was asked to be interviewed, and the interview was aired during a program at 7 p.m. on the day of the seminar, with a French interpretation provided by Mr. Leonard Usongo of WWF Yokadouma (listen to the sound file).

  Sound file: HATTORI Shiho on the radio

wav: 2.29Mb

MP3: 1.43Mb


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