Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: Congo Basin, Democratic Republic of Congo

Geschreven op 4-5-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberDeep in the Heart of Africa. The Mbuti pygmies live in the Ituri Forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mbuti are nomads and the forest serves as the foundation for their culture and livelihood, sustaining them spiritually as well as materially.

Pygmies grow to between 130 and 150 cm tall and the Mbuti are one of many groups that live along the Congo Basin, which stretches from Cameroon in the west to Zambia in the south-east.

This vast region contains the worlds second largest tropical rainforest, surpassed in size only by the Amazon. The Congo Basin is one of the most species-rich areas in the world. Around 90% of the region remains untouched, but deforestation threatens to change this.

If logging continues at its present rate, half of the rainforest will vanish in the next 50 years, putting the livelihood of the Mbuti at risk and endangering rare species such as the okapi, chimpanzee, leopard, elephant and buffalo, all of which live in the Ituri Forest.

Deforestation results in large amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. In 2004, a massive 8.4 billion tons of CO2 were emitted worldwide as a result of deforestation. This is equivalent to a quarter of the global emissions from fossil fuels.

The Mbuti live in harmony with the forest, which they call father/mother. Nomadic hunter-gatherers, they build temporary huts from branches and leaves. Between the ages of nine and twelve, Mbuti boys undergo a manhood ritual to learn how to survive and support their families. They are circumcised and sent out into the forest for five months, clad in skirts made from plant fibre. Apart from singing, they are not allowed to use their voices, and their mouths are symbolically covered by leaves. Their bodies are decorated with clay and whipped to strengthen them for adulthood.

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