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Scientists estimated population of Central African Pygmies to be around 920,000

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Posted January 19, 2016

Although we live in the 21st century and we may think we know a lot about the population of the world, some people are still living in very primitive conditions and are very hard to get to know. Now scientists from UCL, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Malaga for the first time ever have estimated the number of Pygmies living in Central Africa. It turns out there are about 920,000 Pygmies in the forests of Central Africa.

Pygmies in Central Africa forests live in primitive conditions and have rather mobile lifestyle, which made it difficult to estimate the size of their population. Image credit: Jerome Lewis, ucl.ac.uk.

Pygmies in Central Africa forests live in primitive conditions and have rather mobile lifestyle, which made it difficult to estimate the size of their population. Image credit: Jerome Lewis, ucl.ac.uk.

Up until now there have been no accurate estimates of populations of these indigenous groups. They live in very remote areas that are hard to reach for scientists, and they also often change their place of living. The geographical distribution is mind-blowing – Pygmies live in forests of Central Africa that spread across nine countries and 178 million hectares.

However, in these places indigenous groups make up only a very small minority of the total population. All of this made it extremely difficult to at least estimate the number of Pygmies in Central Africa, but because these groups are rather significant to humanity’s cultural diversity, because they are largest of active hunter-gatherers in the world, it has always been a goal of scientists to get to know them better.

Not only this is the first study ever to predict how many Pygmies are likely to be found in tropical forests in Central Africa, but it also maps their distribution and ecological importance for the area. In order to estimate the population of Pygmies, scientists used a statistical method to forecast the distribution of Pygmies in Central Africa. This method is based on species distribution models and can estimate the population quite accurately. Knowing the approximate population of these indigenous groups and their distribution may help preserving Pygmies and supporting their communities.

Professor John Fa, one of the authors of the paper, said: “it’s important for all of the countries involved to come together to help support Pygmies’ cultures and human rights to make sure they are respected and understood. At the end of the day, 900,000 people living in small groups in such a vast area can very easily be ignored, leading to their cultural extinction, and given the extraordinary role they have played in the human story since well before antiquity, we don’t want that”.

There are not many communities like this around the globe. Understanding them better may help preserving them and may also help to understand our modern societal relations and how they came about.

Source: UCL

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