Bushmeat and illegal hunting driving worse than thought, especially on Africa’s savannah grasslands17/10/2012 13:36:27 New report finds illegal hunting and bushmeat trade of wildlife in Savannah Africa could result in a ‘conservation crisis' if unchecked
October 2012. A new report published by Panthera confirms that widespread illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade occur more frequently and with greater impact on wildlife populations in the Southern and Eastern savannahs of Africa than previously thought, and if unaddressed could potentially cause a ‘conservation crisis.' The report challenges previously held beliefs of the impact of illegal bushmeat hunting and trade in Africa with new data from experts.
Bushmeat not confined to forests
Motivated by a growing concern about the impacts of illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in these savannahs, Panthera, the Zoological Society of London and the Wildlife Conservation Society organized a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa attended by key wildlife experts to identify the drivers of illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade, and the interventions necessary to mitigate these issues.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has highlighted a new report, entitled Illegal Hunting and the Bush-Meat Trade in Savannah Africa: Drivers, Impacts and Solutions to Address the Problem, at the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CBD, CoP 11) in Hyderabad, India. This report provides the first comprehensive overview of the threat posed by illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in African savannahs for twelve years, and provides new insights into just how grave the issue has become.
Lead author and Panthera's Lion Program Policy Initiative Coordinator, Dr. Peter Lindsey, explained, "Dramatically more effort, focus and resources need to be invested to address the illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade. 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."
One of the most severe threats to wildlife in several countries
Along with these damning ecological impacts, the report shows that the bushmeat trade imparts serious negative economic and social impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities. According to the report, the bushmeat trade is foreclosing options for developing wildlife-based tourism and other forms of wildlife-based land use in many areas, threatening a primary potential driver for economic growth and the generation of employment for local communities.
Furthermore, the report highlights the impact of the bushmeat trade on food security within local communities. While the bushmeat trade currently contributes to household protein needs in many local regions, the practice is not sustainable, due to wasteful and unselective hunting methods, and a lack of regulation of harvest. By contrast, the report explains that regulated legal hunting of wildlife has the potential to sustainably generate massive quantities of meat protein for local households.
Experts found that the drivers of the bushmeat trade in savannah areas are varied, and include: increasing demand for bushmeat in rural and urban areas; human encroachment on wildlife areas; inadequate penal systems and lack of enforcement; lack of alternative livelihoods and food sources for people living in or near wildlife areas; lack of clear rights over wildlife or land; political instability, corruption and poor governance; demand for wildlife body parts for traditional medicine and ceremonies; and abundant supplies of wire (which is used by bushmeat hunters to make snares).
Finally, the report outlines a variety of solutions required to mitigate illegal bushmeat hunting and trade, including: land use planning 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.
At CBD CoP11, Roland Melisch, Head of TRAFFIC's delegation in Hyderabad (India), called upon Parties to include this essential document on bushmeat on the agenda for considerations by the Parties, "A comprehensive set of recommendations on sustainable use of wild meat has been negotiated by Parties, experts and indigenous peoples and local communities through a multi-year process. It is now time for Parties to CBD to act and adopt those recommendations."