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Distribution and numbers of Pygmies in central African forests.

Olivero, Jesús and Fa, John E. and Farfán, Miguel A. and Lewis, Jerome and Hewlett, Barry and Breuer, Thomas and Carpaneto, Giuseppe M. and Fernández, María and Germi, Francesco and Hattori, Shiho and Head, Josephine and Ichikawa, Mitsuo and Kitanaishi, Koichi and Knights, Jessica and Matsuura, Naoki and Migliano, Andrea and Nese, Barbara and Noss, Andrew and Ekoumou, Dieudonné Ongbwa and Paulin, Pascale and Real, Raimundo and Riddell, Mike and Stevenson, Edward G. J. and Toda, Mikako and Vargas, J. Mario and Yasuoka, Hirokazu and Nasi, Robert (2016) 'Distribution and numbers of Pygmies in central African forests.', PLoS ONE., 11 (1). e0144499.


Pygmy populations occupy a vast territory extending west-to-east along the central African belt from the Congo Basin to Lake Victoria. However, their numbers and actual distribution is not known precisely. Here, we undertake this task by using locational data and population sizes for an unprecedented number of known Pygmy camps and settlements (n = 654) in five of the nine countries where currently distributed. With these data we develop spatial distribution models based on the favourability function, which distinguish areas with favourable environmental conditions from those less suitable for Pygmy presence. Highly favourable areas were significantly explained by presence of tropical forests, and by lower human pressure variables. For documented Pygmy settlements, we use the relationship between observed population sizes and predicted favourability values to estimate the total Pygmy population throughout Central Africa. We estimate that around 920,000 Pygmies (over 60% in DRC) is possible within favourable forest areas in Central Africa. We argue that fragmentation of the existing Pygmy populations, alongside pressure from extractive industries and sometimes conflict with conservation areas, endanger their future. There is an urgent need to inform policies that can mitigate against future external threats to these indigenous peoples’ culture and lifestyles.

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Publisher statement:© 2016 Olivero et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Date accepted:19 November 2015
Date deposited:16 May 2018
Date of first online publication:06 January 2016
Date first made open access:16 May 2018

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