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The Lucrative Business that’s Killing the Congo Basin

Ciceron Nyalowala’s parents are disappointed. Their son took a boat from their riverside village to the city of Mbandaka, in the heart of the Congo Basin rainforest, where he enrolled in a teacher-training college. They wanted him to become a crocodile hunter, like his father and most of his ancestors. “There is a lot of pressure,” says Mr Nyalowala. Hunting for bush meat is popular—and may pay better than teaching. However, it harms wildlife in the rainforest, which spans six countries and is second in size only to the Amazon. Around 6m tonnes of bush meat are thought to come out of the Congo Basin each year. The number of animals killed for the pot has been increasing, according to a study from 2016 led by Goethe University Frankfurt. More hunters are selling their prey in markets, instead of eating it themselves. The trade has emptied out parts of the forest; 39% of it is at severe risk of over-hunting, the study says. Everything from bonobos (an endangered species of ape) to cobras, antelopes and, occasionally, elephants, appear at market stalls in Mbandaka.