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Get to know the Baka! t1 56k
series profile: baka villagers


Life hangs in the balance for the Baka people of Bosquet, Cameroon, a village of 600 inhabitants on the edge of one of the world's largest tracts of rainforest.

For thousands of years, the Baka, a pygmy tribe, have made their living as hunter-gatherers. Now, their world has begun to change.

Foreign logging companies have moved in, consuming huge tracts of forest. The large game that could sustain a village for weeks has disappeared. The Baka now make their living laying snares for small mammals like cane rats and hares, which are still fairly abundant. If a gun is available, they will also shoot monkeys - a popular food item with logging truck drivers and urban residents.

For now, the Baka can only complain about the disappearance of their forest home. The provincial government in Abong Mbang sets guidelines to protect the rainforest, but has no incentive to hand over forest management to the Baka. Village elders say that the young - Bosquet's best hope for the future - have little interest in staying true to their forest roots. Yet, in cities like Abong Mbang, people taunt and insult the Baka in the street; children call them "monkeys". But, the Baka say that the jibes mean little so long as they can retain some stake in the lush, tropical jungle where they trace their origins.

Villager Jeanne Bejo weaves a basket.


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