Monday, April 25, 2016

Climate Change Nightmare Hits North West as Strange Disease Attacks Cypress Trees, Goats, Extinction Feared

Cypress plants serving as Live decoration drying off
Statistics show that about 80,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed across the world each day, and the destruction takes with them over 130 species of plants, animals and insects. Much of that deforestation has been attributed to human activities and to the phenomenon of climate change. Nearly 90% of an estimated 35,000,000 cypress trees are facing extinction in the North West Region of Cameroon. Indicators are rife at that these trees may disappear before this year ends. This is so due to the presence of a strange disease that has attacked cypress trees. Environmentalists have attributed the present stalemate to climate change, while farmers (mostly villagers) on the other hand say it is an art of witchcraft. Abanda Marcel of Youth Assembly for Justice-YAFEJ describes the situation as pathetic and added that " there is an urgent need for scientists to look into the precarious situation. We have to rescue the cypress trees now or else, the future maybe very uncertain for other plant species". To Kari Jackson, Coordinator of Sustainable Run for Development-SURUDEV, it is the warming climate and the effect of climate change that has started showing its ugly face. "Either we stand up and protect these cypress trees, or see them eroded until we see large-scale extinctions." Jackson says. 
Cypresses used as live fence drying off
Yet scientists have been mute over the issue. It is not yet clear whether they are on the trail to identify fungus that is causing the dead of an estimated 35 million cypresses in the North West Region. The Ndu Tea Plantation alone may lost over 25.000 cypress trees while individual farmers and homes have also seen their plantations and flower gardens reducing to nothing. The most pathetic thing is that these are trees that have played a very crucial role in communities. They serve as win-breaks, live fences, fuel-wood, sheds, habitats for birds and animals etc. 
Though cypresses was lately considered as the most resistant tree specie, Vincent Bawe, Manager of Millennium Star Hotel in Nkambe said when he observed some black spots on the live-fence at the hotel, he embarked on watering but it did not produce any results as the trees continuously dried off. "The young plants became “weakened and within two days they leaves change from green to brown”.  
The situation is very pathetic in Donga Mantung Division, Bui, Ngoketunjia and Mezam as every cypress tree is drying off. In this part of the country, cypresses are mostly used as live-fences, wind breaks and fuel plantations. Every passing day, the green scenery is showing an ugly face as the population look helplessly at the drying trees. It is feared that if the disease attacks other tree species, it may lead to devastating effects.

Witchcraft or Climate Change
Cypress fuel-wood plantation
Villagers have started looking at the present stalemate as the beginning of the end of the world. In just the past few days, the precarious situation has had diversified interpretations. It is widely said in villages that the attack on cypresses is an act of witchcraft. The story goes that some witches on a mission to kill all young men in the villages brought an illness and later buried it under a cypress tree. A goat dug it and that is why goats and cypresses have been attacked by a strange disease. But scientifically, the argument has proven not to hold water yet it is widely believed by almost all the villagers in Donga Mantung Division. 
At the Ndu, Nkambe, Lassin and Misaje markets, the prices of goats have dropped to floor level. Buyers have been scared to the point that a 30-50 kg live weight  goat sells at FCFA 3000, approximately 6 US Dollars. Ndi Godlove, a young breeder at Mbabi-Wat says he lost 63 goats in one week. Godlove who is in his early 40s told us that he lost all his lifetime investments. There are stories of breeders in Nkambe and Ndu council areas that have lost over 200 goats each. Though there are no statistics available at the Divisional Delegation for Livestock in Donga Mantung Division, an authoritative voice said thousands of goats have died in the Division within the last one month. 
Nji Evaristus says animals especially goats are suffering from its worst unknown disease in a millennium. "I vaccinated all my goats and sheep, maybe that is why I did not lost everything". 
Goats killed by strange disease
In another related story, villagers have attributed the unknown diseases to witches and wizards. It is said in villagers that some witches and wizards in an attempt to destroy humans have brought jiggers, illnesses to kill cypresses and goats. The same group is also said to have made it in such a way that kola nuts produced the highest fruits this year. In Ndu and Nkambe, in Donga Mantung Division, no one buys kolanuts again. A 15 liters bucket sells as cheap as FCFA 250-500 and 100 kolanuts at FCFA 50-100. 
Talking about climate change and the heating temperature to them in relation to the unknown diseases is like a fairy tale.  Although atmospheric scientists increasingly believe that the exceptionally warm waters over the past months are the early indications of a phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a cyclical warming of the North Pacific that happens a few times each century, traditionalists on the other hand still think that the gods are angry.  And that the land has been curse by numerous sacrileges committed by man. Yet they haven't yet figured out precisely what's behind them the present stalemate. It is common occurrence to see a traditional ruler pouring libation to call on the gods to bring back the rain or bring back a drying stream. 

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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