This story excerpt was translated from French. To listen to the original story in full, visit Radio Tiéméni Siantou. You may also listen to the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.
The sacred forests of Central Africa are undergoing accelerated degradation. Their "sacred" character (the scene of ritual practices, shelter for totems, and access to which is reserved for initiates and spiritual guides) is no longer sufficient to dissuade an ever-growing riparian population, as well as uncontrolled urbanization. This is reflected in the penetration of these forests, agricultural practices, hunting, illegal cutting of firewood, sale and illegal occupation of plots.
This is particularly the case in the Equateur province in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the highlands of western Cameroon. Thus, according to data collected in 2021 in this region by the NGO Rainforest Alliance, the sacred forests of the highlands of western Cameroon have lost more than 60% of their area over the past 30 years. These spaces of heritage sovereignty represent the last bastions of the forest, in an agricultural region where the average population density is 718.8 inhabitants per km ², according to data from the mapping site DB City.com.