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Tradi-practitioners Cautioned Against Wanton Medicinal Wildlife Exploitation 

By Chris Mbunwe

Due to increasing pressure on and scarcity of medicinal plants in the Northwest, the ministries of Public Health and Forestry and Wildlife recently authorised a symposium on sustainable medicinal wildlife in Bamenda. The symposium brought together conservationists, researchers, tradi-practitioners and the media to brainstorm on sustainable use of wildlife resources and health promotion.

Speaking at the occasion, the Northwest Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Samuel Eben Ebai, said the workshop was organized because it was realised that an important quantity of medicines used by tradi-practitioners are derived from wildlife species mainly found in the grasslands of the Northwest Region, yet the unsustainable way the indigenous wildlife resources are collected and traded is increasingly leading to the depletion and eventual extinction of some of these species.

According to him, much has been researched and written on medicinal plants but very little has been done on wildlife medicinal species in Cameroon. "Unlike vegetative materials which are harvested from shrubs, plants and trees that more often than not leave the resource base intact, animals are usually killed in order to extract the parts necessary for medicinal properties," said Eben Ebai.

Ebai lauded the efforts of Liyong Sama, the Coordinator of RSG-Sustainable Medicinal Wildlife Initiative, and his team for soliciting and obtaining the endorsement from the Regional Delegates of Public Health Forestry and Wildlife to organise such an enriching symposium, which he said was first of its kind in Bamenda.

"The fact that traditional medicine is crucial to our region’s health care and is the dominant medical system in the region indicates that associations of traditional medicinal practitioners represent a promising forum for discussing and developing strategies to address the issue of declining medicinal wildlife resources," Eben Ebai said. Liyong Sama, on his part, was grateful that so many stakeholders have taken the commitment to ensure there is no wanton destruction or harvesting medicinal wildlife. He defined medicinal wildlife as any medicinal material derived from a wild animal- mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

Medicinal wildlife can be the parts of products like the hide/skin, fur, flesh, bone, blood, fats and dung/droppings which are used for the treatment or prevention of illnesses. These could be processed into medicine by being cooked, soaked, roasted, fried, ground or burnt into ashes before being applied. Participants were treated to legal means of acquiring medicinal wildlife.

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