Illegal Hunting And Bushmeat Trading Driving Down Animal Populations In Africa
October 13, 2012

Illegal Hunting And Bushmeat Trading Driving Down Animal Populations In Africa

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Illegal hunting and bushmeat trade are having a greater impact on wildlife populations in the Southern and Eastern savannas of Africa than was previously thought.

TRAFFIC's new report entitled "Illegal Hunting and the Bush-Meat Trade in Savanna Africa: Drivers, Impacts and Solutions to Address the Problem" provides the first comprehensive overview of the threat posed by illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in African savannas for twelve years.

"Dramatically more effort, focus and resources need to be invested to address the illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade," Dr. Peter Lindsey, lead author and Panthera's Lion Program Policy Initiative Coordinator, said in a press release. "In the absence of such an effort, one of Africa's most valuable resources, the continent's wildlife and comparative advantage, will wane rapidly and disappear from many areas."

Findings from a workshop organized by the Zoological Society of London and the Wildlife Conservation Society confirmed that illegal hunting for bushmeat is emerging as one of the most severe threats to wildlife in several countries in the savanna biome.

Dramatic ecological consequences include local disappearances of many species, reductions in the sizes of protected areas, and a complete collapse and disappearance of wildlife populations.

Scientists believe that as wildlife populations shrink down, the pressure of remaining populations is likely to increase.

The report shows that the bushmeat trade imparts negative economic and social impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities. The report adds the bushmeat trade is foreclosing options for devastating wildlife-based tourism and other forms of wildlife-based land use in many areas.

It also highlights the impact of the bushmeat trade on food security within local communities. Although bushmeat trade currently contributes to household protein needs in many local regions, the practice is said to be unsustainable because of wasteful and unselective hunting methods.

The report claims regulated legal hunting of wildlife has the potential to sustainably generate massive quantities of meat protein for local households.

TRAFFIC's report also outlines the infrastructure and logistics of illegal bushmeat hunting and trade.

Experts found the drivers of bushmeat trade in savanna areas are varied, and include an increasing demand for bushmeat in rural and urban areas, human encroachment on wildlife areas, inadequate penal systems and lack of enforcement.

Solutions are offered up by the report though, including: planning out land use to ensure retention of wilderness areas far from human populations; measures to enable communities to benefit legally from wildlife in a sustainable way; improved legal protection of wildlife and law enforcement; the provision of alternative livelihoods and food sources; and measures to reduce the availability of wire to create snares.