Threats in de Boé
There are many poachers. Ape and chimpanzee hunting for brush meat is relatively infrequent because the Muslim population does not eat ape meat. However, the younger generations do not respect this taboo on ape meat nearly as much as their elders. Furthermore, hunting activity is increasing in Guinea Conakry. People have observed that chimpanzees and other apes are being hunted more than ever in the Boé and sold as pets.
Mined bauxite can also be found locally in the Boé, sometimes up to 4 to 5 metres thick. Bauxite is a very advanced weather-resistant product. Its aluminium content is significantly higher than its iron content and most of its silicon has disappeared. It is expected that the best bauxite can be found on the more alkaline solidified rocks and clay sediments. Recent projections indicate that there are at least 100 million tons of bauxite reserves in the Boé. Even though we are talking about large quantities from an objective standpoint, the quantity is small in comparison with the tremendous reserves in the neighbouring Guinea (Conakry). Besides, Guinea (Conakry) already has a long history of bauxite mining and has the necessary infrastructure, an infrastructure that does not exist in the Boé at all. These were the two reasons why large-scale bauxite mining in the Boé has not been a serious option for western mining companies until now. This situation appears to be changing now that studies are being conducted into the options to mine bauxite in the Boé. We must realise that any bauxite mining will have a tremendous impact on the region. If we look at it from a nature protection point of view, it can have highly negative consequences because bauxite pockets are located right in the middle of the chimpanzees’ habitats.
The population in the Boé is growing rapidly. Most official publications report that 12,000 people are living in more than 50-85 villages. According to experts, this is already more than the Boé can handle. Furthermore, a number of new villages are being established in the central region of the Boé, which had remained largely uninhabited until now. Old customs and taboos are disappearing. The inhabitants are trying to raise their standard of living. In the Boé, this means there will be more agriculture, more livestock farming, a few shops and an occasional “hotel” with a few rooms for rent. There is increased hunting and poaching activities and chimpanzees are among the animals being hunted and poached.
As a part of regional development, there are plans to lay a paved road that will pass right through the middle of the Boé. This improved access involves the risk of the accelerated sale of the resources of the Boé to the more densely populated areas around Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
Left: Road in Boé in January 2008. Right: Road in Boé in January 2010