and heads of cooked primates symbolize the million tons of bushmeat
taken from Africa's Congo River Basin every year.
the bushmeat inherit the Earth?
Loggers hunt. Loggers eat bushmeat because protein is typically scarce in forests (tsetse flies carrying trypanosomosis sicken cattle in much of Africa). Logging trucks and roads haul guns to the bush and meat to cities.
Anti-bushmeat activists estimate that each year, 1 million metric tons of bushmeat is killed in the Congo River Basin in Central Africa. We didn't hear much about bushmeat until five or 10 years ago, yet activists like Helen Crowley of the Wildlife Conservation Society say the bushmeat trade is even more threatening to African wildlife than deforestation -- which is, after all, the primary result of logging.
the seventh year, the land shall have a Sabbath
In logging camps, bushmeat is cheaper than other high-protein foods, and while more expensive in cities, bushmeat's gourmet status sparks a growing demand for meat from chimps, gorillas, bonobos, forest antelopes, even cane rats.
Most sizable forest animals are targets for the guns and snares of the bushmeat trade. But much of the concern focuses on the threat to fellow primates. Already, chimpanzees, perhaps our closest relative, have declined from about 2 million a century ago to about 150,000 today, according to veteran chimp researcher Jane Goodall (see "From Wildlife..." in the bibliography). Obviously, the decline reflects causes like habitat degradation, not just bushmeat.
(Bushmeat also probably spreads new diseases like ebola from the forest.)
Over the long term, the recipe for squelching bushmeat is straightforward: just reverse overpopulation, disease, inequality, ignorance and poverty. In the short run, conservationists want to clamp down on the business and enforce hunting laws. "We have to stop the bushmeat traffic on logging trucks, prevent arms from getting into the reserve, stop employee hunting, be more aware about where we place roads," says Crowley.
Crowley adds that WCS biologist Paul Elkan, a biologist who's explored the Goualogo Triangle, is now developing wildlife management practices for logging areas and promoting what she calls "sustainable hunting and alternative protein sources."
It's a tricky assignment. Trying to prevent hungry, poor and armed people from hunting wild animals, can be "pretty hairy work," Crowley says. Still, she adds that many local people disapprove of commercial hunting: "They don't want outsiders coming in shooting out the forest and trucking it away."
Many national laws protect certain species, especially those listed by the CITES convention. But laws are just paper against desperate people colluding with corrupt officials.
The bushmeat trade, Eves contends, is driven more by money than the need for protein. In the long run, she adds, the trade, if unrestricted, will expire along with its prey.
"The bottom line is that we can ... try to address this now, when there is wildlife still left, or we'll be forced to address it at a much greater level 10 to 15 years from now, when the wildlife is gone. It's not a question of whether, it's question of when."
Browsing and grazing both legal in the bibliography.
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