Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bushmeat (from the French "viande de brousse") hunting is common in sub-Saharan Africa's dense forests. It refers to the hunting of any animal which is not traditionally regarded to be a game animal, but is nonetheless edible. The meat may appeal to poor city dwellers with few choices, for example. Bushmeat animals include rats, antelopes, and forest elephants, among others.
To the horror of animal rights and Great ape personhood advocates, bushmeat hunters began targeting gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo, as well as other primate species including the now-extinct Miss Waldron's Red Colobus . This undid decades of conservation efforts. The most current reference to 'the bushmeat trade' refers to this hunting of primates, specifically of the great apes which has been labelled ape genocide by some activists. One view is that eating such closely related species is cannibalism — the recent re-classification of some of these species as hominid has made this view more common.
As this terminology suggests, the issue of bushmeat hunting is highly politicized, with practically no support for the practice outside the African forests and cities where it is done. Many international efforts to stop it have been launched, especially in the US, UK, and Canada. In the countries where the hunting occurs, orphaned apes (deemed too fragile to survive on their own, but also deemed too small to be worth shooting and cutting up, to the hunters) are raised and returned to the wild as part of these efforts.
In Cameroon, where red gorilla populations were especially endangered, the World Wildlife Fund launched an education campaign to teach children about Koko the gorilla, who was part of a number of psychology experiments in an American zoo. As awareness of the intelligence of gorilla species and their ability express feelings and care for pets spread, local support for gorilla hunting fell at about the same time.
CIV is a European logging corporation that has been implicated in killing apes for profit. By opening new roads into remote regions in the Congo, and hiring hunters to feed loggers from the bush, they use bushmeat to subsidize the logging — causing both extinction and deforestation at the same time. Affected regions typically have only 6% of land reserved for wildlife, compared to 10% as a global average.
Effect on Great Apes
Some species are legal to hunt and not endangered, and some not. About 1% of the bushmeat trade is in ape meat, however, their small numbers and the attractiveness of hunting them (a gorilla is a quite large animal, and good "payoff" for each cartridge) means the impact is considerable. Apes reproduce relatively slowly (about 1/4 the rate of most mammals) and are very intelligent, requiring many years to train their young, so each loss can have more adverse effects on a group than it might seem. A study in Gabon, the wealthiest country in the region with 80% of its forest cover still in place, showed that it had suffered at least a 56% decline in seventeen years.
Role in African diseases
Efforts at eradication
The bushmeat trade is considered by some anti-globalization activists to be one of many ways in which globalization affects life on the planet. There is no way (other than by researching the corporations involved, or their countries of origin) to tell which lumber has been produced by reliance on ape meat, and which has not. As with slavery, the only path to eliminating the bushmeat trade might be industry-specific protocols like the Cocoa Protocol. Although some argue against Western interference with African culture, claiming that the West should take a value-neutral perspective on eating apes, many African cultures greatly respect or fear apes, and frown on their consumption. Some have suggested that the economic incentive to hunt bushmeat has led to an erosion of these traditional values, and that Western interference is therefore appropriate.
It has also been proposed by Dr. Peter Arcese, an associate professor of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia, that farming infrastructure needs to be created and the international exploitation of African fisheries needs to stop. The fisheries are being overfished by mainly EU-subsidized fleets and could collapse within a few decades. Reduced fishery landings in Africa increases demand for the bushmeat trade which is leading many species to face extinction, and a humanitarian crisis could easily follow. In some locations the biomass of mammals in parks has been reduced by 70% since 1967 because of bushmeat harvesting. Since wildlife monitoring is limited to a few countries the full extent and future outlook of bushmeat is not currently known. 
- BBC News article about trying to prevent the illegal import of Bushmeat to the UK
- The Bushmeat Campaign
- Photographs of bushmeat from KarlAmmann.com
- Oil and Bushmeat
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