What is Bushmeat
This term applies to all wildlife species, including threatened and endangered, used for meat including: elephant; gorilla; chimpanzee and other primates; forest antelope (duikers); crocodile; porcupine; bush pig; cane rat; pangolin; monitor lizard; guinea fowl; etc.
The Bushmeat crisis
Though habitat loss is often cited as the primary threat to wildlife, commercial hunting for the meat of wild animals has become the most significant immediate threat to the future of wildlife in Africa and around the world; it has already resulted in widespread local extinctions in Asia and West Africa. This threat to wildlife is a crisis because it is rapidly expanding to countries and species which were previously not at risk, largely due to an increase in commercial logging, with an infrastructure of roads and trucks that links forests and hunters to cities and consumers.
(see Bushmeat Crisis Task Force website, also report: “Bushmeat – A wildlife crisis in west and central Africa and around the world”, links below).
In central Africa illegal bushmeat traffic is still devastating wildlife populations. Great ape populations are particularly targeted (see The Guardian: “Congolese chimpanzees face new 'wave of killing' for bushmeat”, 7 Sep 10, link below, and Mongabay: “More than 300 gorillas butchered each year in the Republic of Congo”, 27 Mar 09, link below).
• Due primarily to hunting, ape populations are declining in 96% of protected areas; populations of apes living outside protected areas face extinction in the next 10 to 50 years.
• In south-west Central African Republic (CAR), hunters using snares capture 33 species of mammals, 7 species of reptiles and 3 species of birds; in the Lobeke region of Cameroon hunters kill at least 36 species of animals.
• On average, people in the Congo Basin eat more meat than people from industrialized northern countries (47kg/person/yr vs. 30 kg/person/yr) and 60-80% of the meat they eat comes from wildlife.
• Bushmeat consumption across the Congo Basin may exceed 1 million metric tonnes per year; demand for meat in the region is likely to increase by 3% per year and double in 20 years.
(from WWF, “Background information: bushmeat” in page: “Poaching and bushmeat trade in the Green Heart of Africa”, link below).
According to TRAFFIC: “Earlier studies have demonstrated that bushmeat extraction increases with human population growth. However, the latest study finds that bushmeat consumption increases significantly with personal wealth too.”
“Bushmeat consumption is higher in countries with large urban populations, and the increasing urbanization in the Congo region is likely to place even greater pressure on wild animal populations there” (see TRAFFIC: “New analysis sounds alarm over scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa”, 16 Oct 09, link below).