Regulatory policy

Rethinking the policy approach to the dynamic bushmeat trade to conserve wildlife

Wild meat for sale. CIFOR-ICRAF

A lack of clarity regarding the influences driving the commodification of the bushmeat sector in Africa highlights the need to rethink current strategies and policies.

In the Global South, millions of people depend on bushmeat as their main source of protein, but a growing trade between rural and urban areas, which is fueling demand for luxury meats, is putting species in decline. danger of extinction.

According to contributors to a special edition of the African Journal of Ecologywhich presents 16 articles written by researchers representing 45 organizations in 16 countries.

We have identified three main thematic areas that need to be better understood to create a more sustainable business environment, said Lauren Coad, associate scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and Global Agroforestry.

“We need to know how hunting, uses and sales dynamics are changing; how the behaviors and profiles of people involved in the sector are changing; and to learn about current interventions and management for hunting, consumption and trade,” she said.

The complexity of hunting systems and changes in behavior must be recognized to transform the sector with innovative and sustainable management approaches that meet the goals of sustainability of bushmeat hunting, consumption and trade in West Africa. West and Center.

Changes are occurring as once remote areas are opened up due to habitat degradation, fragmentation, urbanization and better access to markets.

The special issue highlights a range of circumstances and potential interventions.

In the Republic of Congo, new roads built to provide access to sites managed for commercial forestry have led to changes in socio-economic developments and hunting dynamics, highlighting the role extractive industries have to play to ensure that their activities do not lead to unsustainable hunting.

It has generally been assumed that most bushmeat is hunted in forests, but research in Benin and Togo demonstrates that it can also occur in other biomes, including degraded ecosystems and savannahs. Research in Togo revealed that hunting was mainly practiced in a national park where wild animals were still available, a situation likely to deplete the resource at the current rate of hunting.

Public health risks have been associated with animal-human interactions, including the capture of wild meat, highlighting the need for more research into hunting trends surrounding zoonotic disease outbreaks for better or worse. .

Researchers in Cameroon have learned that despite a COVID-related ban on hunting pangolins, which were initially considered a possible cause of the pandemic, harvesting and trade continue.

Disease transmission between animals and humans is nothing new. Animals have carried more than 60% of infectious diseases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also reports that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.

Online platforms are also believed to have increased wildlife trade. In Algeria, researchers learned that 5,400 wild animals belonging to 19 species were offered for sale. Most ads – 98% – offered birds for sale as pets, and less than 2% sold reptiles and mammals.

In the cities of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), bushmeat was expensive and sold in informal establishments, mostly owned by women, according to researchers investigating the habits of bushmeat consumption. Office workers and students were the most common customers.

“Regulatory frameworks often fail to differentiate between the different purposes of hunting in rural areas and large-scale urban consumption,” said Daniel Ingram, postdoctoral researcher at the UK’s University of Stirling.

“We need to engage in holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to research and intervention design to effectively address the dynamic aspects of wildlife trade.”

While interventions to date have focused on hunters, market vendors or consumers, bushmeat transporters have largely acted with impunity. Research in the DRC explored the possibility of a voucher system to track and enforce hunting regulations and monitor the transport of bushmeat through a national park for sale at market.

It effectively demonstrated that the meat was not illegally caught in the park. Increased control of ammunition through vouchers has also yielded results, halving the number of primates in shipping in 2019.

Participatory community engagement is also seen as a promising option for wildlife conservation.

WILDMEAT is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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