Bushmeat

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Bushmeat (calque from the French viande de brousse) is the term commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild animals, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas, Asia and Africa. However, originally the term was only used to describe the hunting of wild animals in West and Central Africa. To reflect the global nature of hunting of wild animals Resolution 2.64 of the IUCN General Assembly in Amman (October 2000) referred to wild meat rather than bushmeat. A more worldwide term is game; see that article for a fuller description. The term bushmeat crisis tends to be used to describe unsustainable hunting of wildlife in West and Central Africa or the humid tropics (rainforest), depending on interpretation. Africans have hunted animals since time immemorial; only now that some species are being hunted to extinction, and some of the meat turns up in developed countries, illegally imported, has it become an international issue.

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[edit] Examples

Bushmeat species include apes, other primates, ungulates, rodents, birds and some invertebrates. The species hunted depend on the geographical area, e.g. no apes in the Americas, and preferences and taboos of the hunters.

[edit] Hunting

Bushmeat hunting is common in sub-Saharan Africa's dense forests.'The bushmeat trade' refers to the sale of any bushmeat species, though Western sources tend to focus on the great apes. Though upsetting to many conservationists, animal rights and Great ape personhood advocates, bushmeat hunters began targeting gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo, as well as other primate species.

As this terminology suggests, the issue of bushmeat hunting is highly politicized, with little support for the practice outside the African forests and cities where it is done. International efforts to stop it have been launched, especially in the US, UK, and Canada. In the countries where the hunting occurs, orphaned apes (deemed unable to survive on their own, but also deemed too small to be worth shooting and cutting up, to the hunters) are raised and returned to the wild as part of these efforts.

In Cameroon, where gorilla populations were especially endangered, the World Wildlife Fund launched an education campaign to teach children about Koko the gorilla, who was part of a number of psychology experiments in an American zoo. As awareness of the intelligence of gorilla species and their ability to express feelings and care for pets spread, local support for gorilla hunting fell at about the same time.

[edit] Actors

Logging concessions operated by European and Malaysian companies in African forests have been closely linked to the bushmeat trade. Because they provide roads, trucks and other access to remote forests, they are the primary means for the transportation of hunters and meat between forests and urban centers. Some, including the Congolaise Industrielle du Bois (CIB) in Republic of Congo, have partnered with governments and international conservation organizations to regulate the bushmeat trade within the concessions where they operate. Numerous solutions are needed; because each country has different circumstances, traditions and laws, no one solution will work in every location.

Many conservation organizations have come together to address the bushmeat crisis through the formation of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force [1], whose mission is to build a public, professional and government constituency aimed at identifying and supporting solutions that effectively respond to the bushmeat crisis in Africa and around the world.

Image:South Djoum Chimp.jpg
This Cameroonian chimpanzee was brought to a rescue centre after its mother was killed by poachers.

[edit] Effect on Great Apes

Some species are legal to hunt and not endangered, and some not. About 1% of the bushmeat trade is in ape meat, however, their small numbers and the attractiveness of hunting them (a gorilla is a quite large animal, and good "payoff" for each cartridge) means the impact is considerable. Orphans of the bushmeat trade are often sold as pets, as young apes do not have enough meat on them to eat. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is a member organization of sanctuaries that provide care for bushmeat orphans and education for local communities. Its website is www.panafricanprimates.org.

Apes reproduce relatively slowly (about 1/4 the rate of most mammals) and are very intelligent, requiring many years to train their young, so each loss can have more adverse effects on a group than it might seem. A study in Gabon, the wealthiest country in the region with 80% of its forest cover still in place, showed that it had suffered at least a 56% decline in seventeen years.

[edit] Role in African diseases

Apes harbour pathogens that also affect humans. Ebola for instance is epidemic in chimps and gorillas, and might spread to humans during the butchering and hunting of such animals. One of the many hypotheses that attempt to explain how HIV crossed over to humans is that the virus passed into people by this hunting and/or butchering of an ape, most probably a chimpanzee or gorilla. Hunting and butchering produces blood splatters that easily create infective aerosols.

[edit] Efforts at eradication

The bushmeat trade is considered by some anti-globalization activists to be one of many ways in which globalization affects life on the planet, due to the lumber trade (as described in the Actors section above.) There is no way (other than by researching the corporations involved, or their countries of origin) to tell which lumber has been produced by reliance on ape meat, and which has not. The only path to eliminating the bushmeat trade might be industry-specific protocols like the Cocoa Protocol. Although some argue against Western interference with African culture, claiming that the West should take a value-neutral perspective on eating apes, many African cultures greatly respect or fear apes, and frown on their consumption. Some have suggested that the economic incentive to hunt bushmeat has led to an erosion of these traditional values, and that Western interference is therefore appropriate.

It has also been proposed by Dr. Peter Arcese, an associate professor of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia, that farming infrastructure needs to be created and the international exploitation of African fisheries needs to stop. The fisheries are being overfished by mainly EU-subsidized fleets and could collapse within a few decades. Reduced fishery landings in Africa increases demand for the bushmeat trade which is leading many species to face extinction, and a humanitarian crisis could easily follow. In some locations the biomass of mammals in parks has been reduced by 70% since 1967 because of bushmeat harvesting. Since wildlife monitoring is limited to a few countries the full extent and future outlook of bushmeat is not currently known. [2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

nl:Woudvlees sv:Bushmeat

Bushmeat

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