The Zoological Society of London Announces 'Bushmeat Action Plan'
Wednesday 11 February 2004
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has announced its 'Bushmeat Action Plan' at a high-level debate chaired by Elliot Morley, MP, held at ZSL on Tuesday 10th February. The aim of the plan is to alleviate the bushmeat crisis and ensure the continued survival of threatened species and local communities through a sustainable, regulated trade.
Great apes and other large mammals are being pushed to the edge of extinction through unsustainable levels of hunting for bushmeat. This unsustainable trade is also making poor people poorer, where local communities lose their wildlife to outside traders.
ZSL is active in Ghana, the Congo Basin and Sierra Leone and has been collecting data about bushmeat since the early 1990s. Our data shows that if urgent action is not taken, then many species are facing an accelerated threat of extinction. ZSL believes in a tiered approach to bushmeat, in order to protect those species most at risk.
Key aspects of ZSL's Bushmeat Action Plan
*Identify animals that can and can't be traded
*Instigate licensing to target commercial traders
*Highlight a sustainable hunting strategy with local communities
*Support law enforcement and management of protected areas
*Increase UK and range state governmental action to combat bushmeat trade
*Establish wildlife management best practice with timber companies
Recent statistics from a single market in Ghana show that more than 21 tonnes of bushmeat is sold in just one month. The majority of this meat is sold by wholesalers, market traders and chop bars, and equates to a commercial value of over £26,000 per month. This figure compares with an average Ghanaian monthly wage of just £60-£100.
"An outright ban on bushmeat flies in the face of the needs of local communities," said Dr Glyn Davies, ZSL Conservation Programmes Director. "We need to offer solutions in close discussion with hunters and traders, to ensure endangered species are protected and a regulated trade is put in place. If the unregulated bushmeat trade continues at current levels, food and livelihood security of local communities will decline as species are lost."
Through field research, ZSL has established that an important aspect of the bushmeat trade is the role of urban traders. These traders are predominantly female and are often referred to as 'Cash Mamas'. Cash Mamas are an integral part of life in Africa and supply a variety of commodities to local peoples. One such commodity is bushmeat.
ZSL believes that it is important to regulate the trade. Cash Mamas should be discouraged from selling species such as chimpanzees and timber companies should develop systems to manage wildlife on their land. ZSL is also working with the UK and African governments to put in place regulations that encourage hunters to hunt only non-threatened animals for the bushmeat trade.
BUSHMEAT FACTS AND FIGURES
- Bushmeat is wild animals taken for food from African forests or savannah
- It is estimated that between one and five million tonnes of bushmeat are extracted per year from the Congo Basin alone
- The national value of the bushmeat trade in African countries range between US$20 million to US$200 million
- Bushmeat supplies 50-85% of the protein requirements of tropical forest-dwelling communities in Africa
- One grasscutter (large rodent) is worth ten days wages in rural Ghana; hunters in the Central African Republic earn an amount very similar to that earned by locals employed as park guards; a full time hunter in eastern Kenya may earn ten times the average local wage
- Wild foods are an important resource for an estimated 150 million poor people worldwide
- Hunting pressure has been specifically identified as a threat for 84 mammalian species and subspecies from West and Central Africa (IUCN, 2000)
- The Bushmeat Debate is part of the ZSL 2003-2004 programme of Scientific Meetings which is supported by The Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa
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