Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Located in a serene environment with good topography and vegetation that aid plantation, the Bale Ayo village in Isokan Local Government Area of Osun State is blessed with abundant resources including agricultural products and bush meats in particular. The village today prides itself as one with a great number of bush meat not only in Osun State but, in the South West
The town, notwithstanding its location, has been opened up not only because of the highway that passes through it to both the South and North but also because of the economic impacts of the village to the state as a result of the presence of traders who sell bush meats.
The village is on Ife/Ibadan Expressway. Its proximity of the town to the road has added to its popularity. Many travellers often stop to either buy or eat bush meat.
The Village Head, Chief Jimoh Ayodele told Daily Sun that the community is making concerted efforts to ensure that the village gains recognition. Some members of the community had written to the state government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, seeking for an international bush meat market in the village.
He disclosed that the village has been existing for over two centuries, saying the village has good vegetation habitable to all manners of bush meats. It is a settlement of people from different parts of the country; especially the Yoruba speaking state. The village is under Ikoyi, headquarters of Isokan Local Government Area.
Ayodele said: “Since Ikoyi was founded by a direct descendant of Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race, we believe we are also descendants of Oduduwa. We have our origin also from Ile-Ife but we are under the paramount ruler of Ikoyi.
“We are blessed with bush meats in this village. That is our silver and gold. It is just like the biblical town that flows with milk and honey. In our own case, it is a village blessed with bush meat. This has helped us as people often come from different places to work in the village.”
More than half of the residents are hunters, while a good number of them sell bush meats. Both men and women of all age groups in the town are involved in the bush meat business.
The village head confessed: “We don’t know how the bush meats get to the village but we always find them there and we see this as the blessing of God. We have made efforts to conserve them but we are yet to receive assistance from either the local or state government. All our efforts to also have international market to sell the animals also proved abortive.”
There are no wild animals in the village as hunters go on expedition at both day and night unhurt. There is hardly any resident of the village who does not deal with bush meat as it remains the only source of living.
Chief Ayofe Lasisi, Osolo of Bale Ayo and Mrs. Silifatu Ayodeji confirmed that residents make good money from the sales of bush meats. According to them: “The bush meats are of various kinds and they are in large number. Non-Yoruba are also involved in the sales of the meats and are making good profits.
“At any time of the day, vehicles stop to buy their choice of roasted bush meats here. The community has remained a center where hunters sell their bush meats to women who specialise in roasting animals including snakes, antelopes, rabbits and snails. All these are sold to travelers and other categories of people from within and outside the state.”
A hunter, Mr. Sina Owodele, said: “One aspect which makes the community stand out is that hunting has become a profession for the people. It has become a daily routine in the village to sell bush meat.”
The Olukoyi of Ikoyi, Oba Yisau Bantale, called on the state government to assist the people of the village in providing social infrastructure for the hygiene of the animals sold to members of the public, just as he made case for the citing of an international market in the village:
“Baale Ayo community is known for bush meat worldwide but we want government to build a befitting market for the use of our women. We also call the attention of the government to the deplorable condition of the roads that lead to the community.”
A driver, Mr. Michael Chukwuma, said he has been buying bush meats at the village for over 10 years, stressing that his resolve to buy the meats at the village was to ensure that he buys fresh animals.