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The Bushmeat Trade in Africa: A Review Of Current Status, Impacts

Demand for wild meat is driving species to extinction across Africa

Document created 19 October 2009 ,last updated 15 October 2012

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).

Some facts
• 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).

Links to external websites:

[wb1]  TRAFFIC - 16 Oct 09 - New analysis sounds alarm over scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa - New analytical techniques have revealed that the scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa may be much larger than originally thought, according to a study published to

[wb2]  Bushmeat Crisis Task Force - Click to visit website

[wb3]  Bushmeat Crisis Task Force - Click to read: "Bushmeat, a wildlife crisis in west and central Africa and around the world"

[wb4]  WWF - Click to visit page: "Poaching and bushmeat trade in the Green Heart of Africa"

[wb5]  Mongabay - 27 Mar 09 - More than 300 gorillas butchered each year in the Republic of Congo

[wb6]  The Guardian - 7 Sep 10 - Congolese chimpanzees face new 'wave of killing' for bushmeat

[wb7]  TRAFFIC - 10 Jun 11 - Experts urge better regulation of ‘bushmeat’ trade - A growing and lucrative illegal international commercial trade in the meat and other parts of wild mammals, birds and reptiles (‘bushmeat’) is causing widespread loss of biodiversity, imperi

[wb8]  Mongabay - 12 Dec 11 - Bushmeat trade driving illegal hunting in Zimbabwe park - Bushmeat hunting is one of the major threats to mammals in sub-Saharan Africa. Although widely discussed and recognized as an issues in Central and West Africa, a new study in mongabay.

[wb9]  Science Daily - 12 Oct 12 - Illegal Hunting and Trade of Wildlife in Savanna Africa May Cause Conservation Crisis - A new report published today by Panthera confirms that widespread illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade occur more frequently and with greater impact on w

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