Monkey Pox: Borno IDPs Still Earn Living through Selling Bush Meat
EMERGENCY DIGEST- Hunting and selling of bush meat have continued to thrive in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, following the return of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their ancestral homes.
Findings indicate that hunting is one of the major means of livelihood to many returnees as many young men engage in it.
It was further learnt that bush meat business also provides job opportunities to hundreds of internally displaced persons and other unemployed youths across villages and cities in the state as they engage in processing, burning and cleaning the meat at various markets.
At the popular bush meat spot at Kasuwan Fara, a lot of young men are getting their daily bread from the business.
Adarju Feruju, a dealer, revealed that on a daily basis, between 15 and 20 young men, especially displaced persons, visit her shop at Kasuwan Fara to engage in processing the bush meat, which include removing the body parts, burning and cleaning; and they get paid.
“Every day, they come in the morning and start work. At the end of the day, each one of them get between N1,000 and N2,000.
“I buy from hunters and retailers to sell to traders and other end users. I don’t buy nor sell rotten or death animals, and the ones not killed by hunters. When we buy the animals alive, or killed ones, we burn them and wash with salty water to disinfect them. There are certain bush meats we don’t buy or sell, to avoid spreading diseases.
“I am aware of the outbreak of monkey pox disease, but not aware that the federal government has banned bush meat. We are appealing to the federal government to identify the specific bush meat that carries the disease and ban it. Government should allow us to continue with the rest of animals that don’t carry the disease because thousands of poor people will lose their source of livelihood,” Feruju said.
Another dealer of bush meat at Kasuwan Fara, Ene Joseph, also said, “I am not aware of the ban, but if government wants to enforce the ban, it will dislodge thousands of poor people out of business, and it might not augur well for us because many young people are getting their basic needs in the business. If there is any alternative way to tackle the disease they should please bring it but not banning the entire bush meat.
“On a daily basis, between 20 and 30 young men and children, mostly displaced persons, work with us here to get food and other basic necessities for themselves and their families. The number of hunters, retailers and traders whose sources of livelihood depend solely on bush meat, will become idle, and before something is done, it will throw us into hardship.”
A 19-year-old Sabo Ahmed who engages in burning and cleaning bush meat at Kasuwan Fara, said that since they were displaced from Baga by Boko Haram insurgents, processing bush meat has been their only means of survival.
“I don’t know anything apart from this job. In fact, it has been my only means of livelihood,” he said.
One of the hunters who spoke with our correspondent at Kasuwan Fara, Usman Bukar, said majority of them and the traders were not aware of the planned ban of bush meat by the federal government due to the outbreak of monkey pox in the country. He added, “I don’t think Borno State should be included in the ban because hunting and selling of bush meat are the major sources of livelihood to thousands of returned internally displaced persons.
“It may interest you to know that hunting has played a significant role to pave way for farming because most of the communities displaced by Boko Haram insurgents were left empty, and animals, particularly squirrels and other reptiles that destroy crops, took over farmlands and houses. Without hunting, farming will be difficult in many resettled communities.
“A good number of young men involved in hunting and related activities are generating huge income to invest in farming activities. And if they are asked to stop this venture, what alternative do you have for them, especially as they are recuperating from the effect of insecurity that impoverished majority of them?”
Another displaced person who engages in bush meat business from Damask Local Government to Maiduguri, Audu Saleh, told Daily Trust Saturday that the bush meat business was predominantly for low income earners and poor.
“Borno State should be excluded from the federal government’s ban of bush meat because the business is aiding the peace process, right from hunters and traders from the villages,” he said.
A Public affairs analyst in Maiduguri, Danlami Salihu, said government at all levels should engage in a massive enlightenment campaign to sensitise the public on the danger posed by the outbreak of monkey pox and make a holistic plan for traders and other people making ends meet from bush meat business.