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Keywords:

  • anemia;
  • Aka pygmies;
  • gender;
  • Central Africa;
  • conservation zoning

ABSTRACT

Foragers in transitioning economies are at an increased risk of negative health outcomes as they undergo changes in subsistence patterns and diet. Here, we provide anthropometric data and examine the nutrition and health of adult BaAka foragers in relationship to declining wildlife and economic change in the Dzanga Sangha Protected Areas (APDS), Central African Republic. From June to August 2012, we collected biological data and dietary recall surveys from individuals in Mossapoula (MS) and Yandoumbé (YDBE) villages using standard anthropometric techniques and a single capillary blood finger prick. In our analysis, we identified variation in anthropometric measurements and hemoglobin levels by village (MS = 66, YDBE = 75) and gender (64 men, 77 women). Immigration, increased gun hunting and wildlife trades have reduced forager reliance on forest resources. These changes are evidenced in the marginal health of contemporary BaAka foragers of APDS. Although anthropometric measures of nutritional status do not significantly differ between communities, hemoglobin data highlight inequities in access to forest products between villages with different proximity to community hunting zones. Further, poor dietary diversity and low frequency of purchased foods in the diet indicate that the transition to a market economy has not been fully realized and diets are impoverished. Economic changes appear to have had the most impact at MS village, where forest use is most restricted and consumption of meat and forest products was reduced. This work highlights the nutritional and health needs of foragers in rapidly transitioning economies; especially those impacted by conservation management and zoning policies. Am J Phys Anthropol 154:365–375, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.