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June 13th, 2008
10:38 AM ET

What's for dinner? Porcupine

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Editor's Note: This blog (and vlog) was brought to you from the southern jungles of Cameroon.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent BIO

Today I did something I am unlikely to ever do again in my life. For eight hours, I trekked through a jungle in southern Cameroon. Now, I have been on hikes before, but this was unlike anything I ever experienced.

As soon as we entered the jungle with a local hunter named Dede Donddong, we were immersed in the feel of the jungle. You could immediately hear the sound of Hornbills and an African Gray Parrot in the distance. It was loud and melodious.

You could also feel the intense heat and humidity uniquely experienced in a jungle – within seconds, we were drenched. You could smell the centuries of foliage mixed with the live scent of animals and everything around us was green, almost unimaginably thick.

I didn’t know how we would even make our way through the jungle, as there wasn’t a path that I could immediately see. Eddie smiled and wielded a machete. He started a path and began our 8 hour journey.

For us, we were in pursuit of a story for Planet in Peril: Battle Lines, looking at the bushmeat trade and the reliance of locals on these animals for protein. For Dede, it was a mandatory trip to find some sort of bush animal, so that his family might eat that night.

As we left, his three kids, two parents, his wife, and three neighbors bid him farewell and good luck. They were all hoping he would come home with something, really anything. But, his kids told us their favorite bushmeat was porcupine. Yes, porcupine. Along with snakes, rodents, primates, antelope and many other animals, they are collectively referred to as “bushmeat”.

We learned about the concerns of a bushmeat crisis in western and central Africa. According to some estimates, 4.5 million tons of bushmeat was extracted from the Congo basin last year, putting a few animals on the endangered list, and a few others on the protected status list.

In fact, the ape population in 96% of protected areas is declining. Within the next 10-50 years, the apes face extinction. Excessive hunting, along with deforestation is a large part of the problem.

There is no question Dede alone is not to blame. And, don’t forget, his family is dependent on his ability to hunt and bring bushmeat back to the village. Buying food from larger villages is simply not an option as the towns are too far away and the food is too expensive.

What we saw today was a part of the daily life and culture for so many living in the jungle. Still, the bushmeat crisis appears to be real, with no evidence of slowing down. This is one reality of the food crisis in central Africa.

Oh, and by the way, Dede brought home a porcupine today and his kids were happy.

You can read about this and other Planet in Peril stories here.


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Planet in Peril
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Julie San Diego, CA

    Jan, Excellent point, but Heifer's philosophy of providing farm animals and animal-management training echoes the "don't give a man a fish, teach the man to fish" method of overcoming dependence that may not work well in this situation.

    This is a hunter-gatherer society, not a farming society. In order to change this, you'd need a stable political situation (see Fangbeng's comments), because these people have absolutely no incentive to become livestock tenders if the following two situations are occurring: there's sufficient food to be had by hunting and political unrest means that the livestock they invest their energy in tending can be seized at any moment by a corrupt political faction.

    Victor, your comment about our forefathers eating wild game without concern for disease transmission is somewhat erroneous. What you don't know, can hurt you.

    Let's remove the moral judgments from the equation (AIDS) and talk about “recently discovered” diseases that have been transmitted via humans consuming meat: Mad Cow (Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s Disease) which has been seen predominantly in the UK and Chronic Wasting Disease (Transmissible Spongiform Encephlopathy) which has been seen in deer, elk, and other wild game in Canada and the mid-West. It is likely humans have been affected all along.

    Is it possible that, in the past, we’ve been writing off some of the symptoms to old age, senility, and dementia?

    Brandon, your comment about not having children we can’t afford to feed could apply to us in America, where many households are one paycheck away from financial insolvency.

    And finally, Lillibeth, if you’ve a recipe for possum, we’ve got a wily one that crawls on the back fence behind the house. He’s terrorizing the cats, I’m ready to say to the husband “Quick Jethro – get the gun! Dinner’s getting away!”

    Great discussion, bloggers! 🙂

    June 15, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Ratna, New York, NY

    Dear Dr. Sanjay Gupta,

    I can imagine how pathogens like bacteria and parasites can be transmitted by eating infected bush meat, but what is the path of transmission of a virus through this?

    June 15, 2008 at 7:09 am |
  3. Alys

    Annie is correct, the the bushmeat trade is so HUGE because of the increased access to the forests and its animals which is facilitated by roads constructed for logging. The people who hunt for food for themselves are a small part of the problem. It is more of a delicacy to eat bushmeat and wealthier people will pay a lot for it (some see it as being part of their culture). As the meat changes hands from the hunter to the person transporting the meat to the actual vendor, the pay increases, and the person who ends up selling it can end up making 10x more than what the hunter themselves made. This demand is huge (this is where we must focus more solutions on)- when the buying stops the killing will too.
    People have hunted bushmeat for centuries in Africa and it has been relatively sustainable- however now, with increased access to forests, the trade has EXPLODED and it is a huge threat to Africa's forest animals, especially the great apes.
    Anyone interested, should read Eating Apes, it is an amazing book on the bushmeat trade in Africa and talks about the dynamics of the problem.

    June 15, 2008 at 2:01 am |
  4. Frank Malone

    Without any doubt, a spicey and spikey Snack that Dr. Who would be proud to have inventedif he was currently in this galaxy watchin CNN. i honestly did not realise that it is similar to hot and spicy Indian food but I guess that the phrase "The Doctor knows right" is somehow appropriate!

    June 14, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  5. Rekha Joy Raman

    Hello Dr.Gupta,

    I am afraid of that machete! Can you enlighten us on any information leading to measures being taken by any kind of authority anywhere in the world on checking the onslaught of the animals of the deep jungle. The lack of education and awareness must be a serious issue in Africa. An alternate lifestyle is imperative or until a long-lasting solution is provided, the food necessities of the helpless people need to be taken care of.
    What about the United Nations Health Organization(I forget the abbr.)- their role in this is not been highlighted by anyone. Or is everyone one waiting for a rampant disease onslaught to color the media front covers? to be able to grab everybody's attention and then to start of a vicious cycle of blame game?? The flesh eating bacterial/viral disease is hideous enough to even breathe about. And yet the bush meat consumers are not even aware of any semblance of what they are innocently doing to the environment and to themselves and their neighbors who are not yet caught in the calamity of these consequences. They are just waiting a bite of food to survive. So are they to blame?? or is the sleeping world around them to blame. I wonder. And as Anderson pointed out -apart from the flesh eating thing- monkeypox has been spread world wide and we don't know if there is a cure for that.
    This is a sad and desperate situation in a mad, mad, mad world. Unfortunately this is not a comedy. These hidden new flow of microbes are causing a silent, stealthy invasion on man. What is the point of media coverage when the advantage of media exposure brings absolutely no results. For you, Anderson and the AC360 team, this must be a very, very frustrating experience, even though you are all doing an excellent job as reporters.
    I think the leaders of the developed nations must take a collective stance on this, and results can be produced if ego and complacency is not in the way. War against microbes must be waged first and high priority that this should not take place anywhere in the world.

    June 13, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Subsistence hunting is not the problem – its the people who come in and kill animals for bush meat that they can export to other countries where it is viewed as a delicacy and even a status symbol (although how eating porcupine can raise your status is a puzzle to me). Those hunters who poach for monetary rewards need to be stopped – the man providing for his family doesn't make much of a ripple in the ecosystem.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 13, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  7. deborah, OH

    I know porcupine has been served at the 'wild game' dinners my husband attends once in a while. I don't know how it tastes–never really wanted to know!

    Sanjay, your blog put us right there with you–very very good. I hope you & Anderson & eveybody are protecting yourselves against any disease. It is terrible that these people have to hunt like this to survive. I count the blessings of living in this country.

    Again, be safe–take care. Thanks for all the interesting blogs.

    June 13, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  8. stormy waters

    for those of you who want their gov to give them cattle and teach them to farm...is one of the reasons we are losing the rainforests...killing the animals for meat isnt such a bad thing...but the habitat is dwindling because of farming and the lumber industry(check to see where your exotic woods come from...you are probably not helping the situation either)...if there were more rainforests...there would be more animals to eat

    June 13, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  9. Bren from Atlanta

    I'm really the other entries on the blog and maybe I'm just old enough to remember olden times. I grew up overseas and there were all kinds of strange foods brought to the "pig roasts" from the jungle. I also remember laughing probably with the rest of the nation at the episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies as Granny cooked up some vittles consisting of some good ole road kill. People eat what they had to eat. This does not just occur today "over there". If you just take a trip to the hills of Appalachia, I bet some of us would be a bit taken back at what our folks are eating or not eating...some have not choice in the matter. Grass fills the belly, but our body naturally craves protein...meaning meat. Ever watch that survivor guy? Gross, but he lives...just "food" for thought for the well-fed American audience sitting down to our well endowed dinner tables about now. Count your blessings...I know I am.

    June 13, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  10. Lilibeth

    Sanjay, do whatever you need to do there, but please, promise me you won't eat the porcupine. When you get home, I'll cook you a nice porcupine-free meal.....

    June 13, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  11. Leslie Carpenter

    I live in the Adirondack's of New York State. I have caught and eaten
    porcupine. Its good meat and for stranded or lost hikers, its very
    easy to kill.

    June 13, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  12. James Dylan

    Throughout my entire 30+ years on this planet Africa has always been in the state of chaos. Constantly in civil war, constantly starving and constantly a problem for the rest of the world to solve. And solving those problems the world has never done, but perpetuated their poor existence. Adopt a child for 30 cents a day and give them a fish to eat for a day. What about teaching them how to fish? Make them create a better society and feed themselves. Move them out of the jungle and into the world or isolate them; letting them continue their suicidal way of life. The pity we have for them hasn't done anybody any good.

    June 13, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  13. Andrew

    Victor Etilo wrote:
    > Our forefathers lived on bushmeat and wild animals for thousands
    > of years without getting sick.

    No, Victor, for millions of years humans led short, miserable lives, with high infant and adult mortality from hunger, disease and injury. "The west" has been responsible for nearly EVERY life-extending quality-of-life improvement, ever.

    > When did AIDS and other deadly viruses
    > started, barely less than three decades ago probably from the West
    > from some nasty behavoirs.

    Uh, no, AIDS pretty clearly came from the jungles of Africa. A side effect of modern travel is that it spread much more than it would have a thousand years ago.

    > In Africa you never hear about cemenella in tomatos like the recent
    > story. All of their food are natural and fresh.

    Riiiight. It's called "salmonella" and it lives around the world. Poor sanitation is the means by which it spreads.

    June 13, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  14. Ellen M Wolfe

    My question is what will people eat when all those animals are extinct. Not only animals, but plant foods also. Already we are finding out that there isn`t enough land to supply corn for food and fuel. The floods in the Midwest are threatening the crops already in the ground, or not planted because the the ground is too wet.

    June 13, 2008 at 6:42 pm |
  15. Kathy, Chicago

    I just tried rabbit the other night, and I'm sticking to chicken. I don't think I would want to try porcupine. Isn't it possible for these families to raise chickens? I know it seems easy to do in the US and Mexico. I hate to hear of people in Africa struggling for food, especially families with small children. Their governments don't seem to have the resources to help. I'm glad you all are reporting about these issues. Keep up the great work!

    June 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  16. maggy

    It takes 21 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. Why don't we wise up and give up our meat eating habits that are destroying the earth and grow grain–not for ethanol or cattle–for food!

    We had a battery powered car years ago and GM crushed them all when someone came up with a battery that would allow the cars to go 200 miles (they bought the patent to that battery, too).

    I got off the subject, but the reality is we can feed everyone and become a more healthy nation/world if we became vegetarians. But what would doctors do if we were all healthy?

    June 13, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  17. sabina

    I am so tired to hear that god created man and gave him domination over everything and animals are there to simply serve our every need.
    I think it is time to abandon this non-sense, man-created theory and start thinking that we are like every other species on earth.
    Every living creature has its purpose and needs to be cherished.
    I am sure with this mentality we will find balance between us and the world around us much faster.

    June 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  18. fabular22

    Yea, yea, global warming, SARS, etc.more alarmist reporting just for a free trip. Read the comments form the natives of the area. They can eat other things just fine, they just happen to like porcupine.

    June 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  19. Carla

    When you consider that we – the "educated" the "iformed" the "wealthy" and the "enlightened" – are the ones that have turned the majority of this Earth into a wasteland, I sure don't blame indigenous peoples for doing what they must in order to survive. If "progress" weren't creating so many problems with air, water, land, etc., there would be more to eat for everyone – even if your partiuclar fave might not be procupine.

    June 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  20. Tad Davis

    Elsa from Cameroon is right. Porcupine especially is eaten because it is delicious and also very plentiful. Eve's run-in with porcupine worms notwithstanding, my own meal of porcupine was wonderful. Porcupines in southern Cameroon are no more endangered than armadillos in Texas. And they taste better.

    I'm not saying that there is no bushmeat trafficking problem in Cameroon, only that porcupine is not in that group. When you present data to support a particular point of view, you should use data that supports it. The implication that porcupine meat was part of the problem is incorrect.

    demenTad

    June 13, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  21. Brandon

    I preferr we protect nature's endangered species. They've been here a whole lot longer then these unfortunate jungle-dwellers to poor to live a normal life. Stop having children you can't afford to clothe and feed, and go extinct yourself.... or atleast leave the knife/weapon @ home and fight with your barehands.

    June 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  22. Ravensun

    Betty Ann – I did not think porcupines were poisonous!

    June 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  23. Dave

    Great article... I was in the Peace Corps in the North West Province. Bushmeat is just a way of life. I had my fair share bushmeat and most of the time you just didn't ask what it was. I found that to be good for my own benefit.
    Cameroon is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life.
    The most hospitable, generous and warm people. They would do anything for any one to make you feel welcome. Thanks for letting me remember the great things about Cameroon

    PS-I did try porcupine... I probably wouldnt recommend it to anyone

    June 13, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  24. Kone

    You, Sanjay, are not the solution, you are the problem. Why are you not asking the government of that nation where the food subsidies that we send to them go?? Why are you not showing them other protein that they can eat without killing endangered animals?? You are paying these people to show you the way through the jungle and encouraging them to do similar trips to show other morons how to kill bushmeat. We have been paying that continent billions of dollars in aid for years and they still can't feed themselves. Graft is supreme there and you just helped it get stronger. That's the story not the life of some local who cannot feed his family.

    June 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  25. Janice

    It is indeed unfortunate that these people are so poor, but if there weren't so many people in the world ,poverty would not be so great and the taking of an occasional porcupine to eat would not be a big deal. Virtually every problem humanity has would be alleviated by a smaller world population. Why don't more people talk about this elephant in the room?

    June 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  26. Jim

    We just had some porcupine at a Camaroonian restaurant in Paris. It is quite tasty, if a little unusual. Gamey in a pleasant, tender way.

    June 13, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  27. Joey

    BTW–Ms. Cornelieson's comment about God giving humans dominion over the Earth and suggesting that it means we can "use [our] own land for whatever [we] need to" is wrong. Dominion does not mean we have free rein to whatever we want with creation, including the land and animals. It means that we were given stewardship over them. It's the difference between being given a limitless shopping spree at the local Walmart versus being made the manager of the store. We have not been given the freedom to do whatever we want with the Earth and its inhabitants; we have been charged with managing it and being good stewards.

    June 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  28. Joey

    I lived in Sierra Leone, West Africa for a period of time, in a very small bush village. Bushmeat was a real treat! The best were the small deer-like antelope. But porcupine was quite delicious! And, it actually tastes like...PORK! Believe it or not, it had the texture and taste of roasted pork, but leaner. The strangest that I was served (and simply could not stomach) was giant fruit bat. It was stewed in red palm oil with onions and hot peppers. It smelled awful, and tasted even worse. Meanwhile, my Mende counterpart chomped it down with relish.

    The hunting and eating of primates, and the over-hunting of other animals, is a very difficult subject. When it comes down to people choosing between serious malnutrition or even starvation, and the survival of these animals, I cannot blame the people for doing what they need to do to survive. The blame does not lie with these people–the planet has sufficient resources for all, it is just so inequitably distributed and consumed that many are left to subsistence existences. It's more OUR fault than theirs.

    June 13, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  29. carmen

    Dear Doctor,
    Thanks for the report and for opening people's eyes to the rest of the world and how it is struggling to survive.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  30. Safa - San Jose

    Its sad that these animals are going extinct, and that these people are put in a position where they are eating them. the [roblem is that humans think that they own everything and want to control everything, but the truth is that we all live on this planet together and we must recpect animals and when many animals are going extinct, and some animals are being overpopulated because of our horrible dependence on meat, its sad too see.
    the problem isnt eating porcupines instead of chickens, the problem is that many are going extinct, and yet we still kill the extinct and overpopulate the abundant. we should treat animals with more respect.

    but, good job on your reporting.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  31. Ola

    I'm from Nigeria, and lots of people there eat bush meat because they like it, not because they need to. The same is true for Cameroon–my step mother is from there and I have visited and know a lot about the country. It is also true though, to Sanjay's point, that SOME eat bush meat because they don't have to pay for it in the market.

    Still for those who don't know anything about West Africa beyond the (tall) tales of poverty they read on blogs, I live in the States and have gone back home and eaten antelope and snake when it was offered to me. My family is certainly not poor or from some remote village and we enjoy fresh meats and veggies from our local market. There are many people like me who eat bush meat and aren't starving to death in West Africa. That said, I have never eaten a primate, and would not like to (ew!). But I'd like to stress (again) that the survival instinct all that's involved here, there are also cultural norms. Thanks. That was my 2 cents.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  32. Eve Michigan

    I would advise against eating the porkie! My son had a trapping line years ago. Selling hides for money to help with his schooling.
    HeTrapped a Porcupine, and we were going tocook it up with sweet potatoes.

    As he was skinning the animal, large long white tape worms began to wiggle out of the carcass. Well, needless to say, I planned on salad for supper.

    I have eaten lots of wild game,because thats all we could afford. (Never poched) If the things keep going the way they are a porkie will be a treat, worms and all!
    Eve Mi.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  33. Carol B., Virginia

    And what goes with porcupine? Porcupine helper, mmm... I'd like to think we'd all send them all surf & turf if we could. The landscape and wildlife sounds amazing. Hope you, Anderson and the crew stay safe until your mission is done.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  34. Victor Etilo

    Did I hear someone or Dr. Gupta talk about getting sicknesses or viruses from eating bushmeat? That is not quite so. Our forefathers lived on bushmeat and wild animals for thousands of years without getting sick. When did AIDS and other deadly viruses started, barely less than three decades ago probably from the West from some nasty behavoirs. Frankly speaking, the real sicknes from food come from chemical that our farmers in the West applied to food to get it to market as fast as as they can. In Africa you never hear about cemenella in tomatos like the recent story. All of their food are natural and fresh. So leave the Africans alone. They've been living like that since the beginning of ages and they are happy. That's all that matters.

    June 13, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  35. Amanda, South Africa

    I agree with Jude.

    Important stories and vital that they should be told, but I am concerned that stories from Africa (and the rest of the third world) is never received without some bias. For the western mind eating cute monkeys or porcupine must seem abhorrent, but there is a larger untold story.

    Most of the societies featured on PiP lived in harmony with nature for millennia until the equilibrium was disturbed in some way. Unfortunately in most instances it was our forebears that got onto boats and sailed to New Amsterdam or Cape Town or Sydney that started the process of ruin for many of them.

    As the issues around the environmental crises become more apparent, we as humans will do what we are so good at doing in a crisis – we will want to find and blame scapegoats. Although the Planet in Peril stories I have seen have been fair in their representation of the current issues, not having insight into some of the larger issues at play is going to cause some of the viewers to judge these communities. Not sure what the solution is, but maybe even just broader debates on some of the blogs will help.

    In all instances it seems to me all of us should be asking WHY, WHY things in the state they are in are and not compromise until we get to the heart of the matter.

    June 13, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  36. Elsa

    I am from Cameroon
    People eat bushmeat because they like it no because they cannot afford beef or other kind of meat. The same way that people in your country eat rabbit, frog leg and all the other kind of what other people could call ""weird meat.
    Which quality of of theirs lives Jan is talking about? I have seeing people in this beautiful country with worst quality of life. Please give me a break.
    Why don't you go in Cameroon in and show some beautiful place? Why are are You always showing the worst of a foreign country? Is that making you best?
    May be sometimes We should stop juging what we do not understand

    June 13, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  37. Phil in KC

    I cannot imagine how anyone could eat any primate. It's just too close to cannibalism. Not to mention the intelligence of these animals. It's also a shame that there are species on the endangered list because of this. Still, it is hard to argue this when the survival of your family is involved. One does wonder what porcupine tastes like. Let me guess..... chicken?

    June 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  38. Barbara

    I think it's wonderful to show a different side to the bushmeat issue. I feel badly for the animals, but I feel worse for the HUMANS who are hungry and turn to this means to get food.

    If we'd stop the logging and de-forestation of the rainforests, a lot of animals would thrive, which in turn provides food for the people in those areas.

    June 13, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  39. fangbeng

    The human rights situation in Cameroon is extremely poor and the gov't in Cameroon is using high-handed tactics to silence the opposition. The govt of Cameroon is engaged in official coruption, banditry and extortion of the populace carried out by the forces of law and order. I would think there are better things to report on Cameroon than than the crisis of "bush meat" in the jungle. Real change can only come to these places when gov'ts represent their people and enough reforms are put in place to make "bush meat" irrelevant and protect the environment. I come in peace.

    fangbeng.

    June 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  40. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    Aren't there organizations like Heifer International that help provide villagers like these in providing sustainable livestock (pigs and goats) as well as providing some agricultural crops to help eliminate the need for bushmeat? I realize the "hunt" for food has been a long tradition in many of these villages, but are they willing to accept some training and assistance to possibly improve the quality of their lives?

    June 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  41. mjBruce

    If people cannot grow anything, cannot buy anything. They have to have food or die. They ahve to do what they have to do. Eating leaves just won't do it. The best to all of them

    June 13, 2008 at 12:17 pm |
  42. Jude From Arizona

    Dr Gupta,

    I have done research and written an article on deforestation and its impact on the ecosystem in South East Cameroon.

    The major factor that has caused this problem is commercial logging. This is so because it has not only destroyed the habitat for animals and ruined the ecosystem, but it has also created roads linking previously inaccessbile areas and thus fueling the trade in bush meat.

    The local people have lived in this habit for centuries and without external influence hunting and farming has been largely subsistence with little or no effect on the ecosystem.

    June 13, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  43. David Fitzmorris

    When are these enviromentalist (i.e.Al Goreites',Sierra Club, etc) going to start addressing the real issues with this world. Too many people! Instead of looking for setting aside habitate, research funds, phony Global warming taxes and such, the world needs to address a means to control world population explosion. In the U.S. it would be easier enough through the IRS. One child is a deduction, 2 nd is no deduction, 3rd is a penalty tax. In third world countries it may involve harsher means whatever Science can deem safe. Population explosion is the root cause for all enviornmental issues and most economic issues. Humankind is a biological organism on a planet with a finite carring capacity, exceed that capacity and mother nature is going to regulate the growth for us. And it's not going to be pretty.

    June 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  44. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Dr. Gupta!
    I understand ingesting an animal could possibly transmit diseases from animal to human, but what about cleaning an animal for dinner?
    If they should prick their finger on the porcupine's quill, not only would they recieve poison, but all the bacteria and God only knows what is injected directly into the bloodstream.
    What about when they clean or "dress" an animal for dinner and the blood from the animal gets into an open wound?
    Scary stuff~
    Also, would you please explain why some diseases are spread simply by a mosquito while others like HIV are not? that just does not make sense to me.
    Ok, thanks for the blog! VERY INTERESTING!
    XXOO,
    Betty Ann

    P.S. I would love for you to answer the question about mosquitos! 😉

    June 13, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  45. Rebekah Cornelison

    Every report that I read concerning animals and the environment says that humans are to blame for whatever the problem de jour may be. I am so tired of hearing that people can't use their own land for whatever they need to, whether it is to build or clear it for farming or otherwise. We are blamed for disturbing every kind of habitat there is from beach mice to spotted owls, red salamanders, pitcher plants and far too many other plants and animals to mention here. I'll have you know, that God created this earth and everything in it. He created man and gave him dominion over everything in the earth and everything on the earth. It was put here for our use. Of course, we are to care for the planet, but we are not to deny the creature formed in God's own image the use of whatever he needs to survive, to grow and to prosper. And yes, that means that at times some plants and animals will become extinct, but guess what, God created it and he did not give us the ability to destroy it. He is in control of that and until He decides that, then we are free to use any and all of the resources available to us. He will supply what we need if something runs out.

    June 13, 2008 at 12:08 pm |
  46. Cherisa

    Very interesting.

    These scientists should be applauded for their efforts. I imagine they could make a bigger impact with more resources – funding, people on the ground, etc. Thank you for using this outlet to make the world aware.

    June 13, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  47. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    It can't be any weirder than alligator, turtle, squirrel, or nutria. People do what they have to do to feed their families. That's just common sense. Until their governments deem these people worthy of help from within and without, their food issues will continue. The food source in the bush is a definite issue. The greater issue, though, is the human right to dignity, fair prices at market, and decent food options for one's family. That is a governmental and economic problem this nation has to resolve. Sadly, you can't make leaders care about those they serve (look at New Orleans for at home proof). Unless other governments are willing to force their hand or some miracle transformation happens in Cameroon, I don't see the problem being solved.

    Sounds like another exciting day so far. It also sounds like being a vegetarian might not be a bad thing on this trip. Here's to alternate protein sources and packing lots of energy bars.

    June 13, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  48. Cindy

    Sanjay,
    Thanks for keeping us updated on what you all are doing over there. Love hearing of you alls adventures into the jungle. I hope that you all got lots of shots before going over though!

    Obviously these people have no choice but to go and kill these animals for food to survive. I hope for their sakes that something can be done so that they don't have to risk getting these viruses and diseases just to survive. Seems they are danged if they do and danged if they don't as of now.

    Please stay safe!!

    Cindy...Ga.

    June 13, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  49. kent fitzsimmons,Kewanee, Illinois

    A hike into the jungle is something most of us will never encounter. We complain about gas prices and how high our mortgages are, when people spend all day just looking for something to eat. I wouldn't be surprised if Dede and his family were to become the next reality series we see. That's not a bad thing. I think maybe Americans need to be brought back to a reality that many in the world have...............basic survival.....................

    June 13, 2008 at 10:59 am |
  50. Danielle M

    Wow Sanjay!

    I can't wait to see your whole report. I appreciate you and Anderson and team venturing into the jungle to educate as on plight of the Cameroon people and the wild life.

    I hope you are not bitten by any strange bugs that plant eggs under your skin....stay safe.

    Danielle

    June 13, 2008 at 10:57 am |
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