New analytical techniques have revealed that the scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa may be much larger than originally thought, according to a study published today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
Cambridge, UK - New analytical techniques have revealed that the scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa may be much larger than originally thought, according to a study published today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
The study, based on an analysis of food balance sheets provided by the UN Food and Agriculture Organizationâ€™s statistical database FAOSTAT, strongly supports the view that the current situation surrounding bushmeat hunting in Central African rainforests is precarious. According to the analysis, bushmeat extraction rose considerably in the Congo Basin between 1990 and 2005, despite the overall decrease in forest cover in Central Africa.
Cameroon appears to be exceedingâ€”by more than 100%â€”an estimated sustainable offtake of 150 kg of game meat per square kilometer of forest, and Gabon and the Republic of Congo are both close to this limit. The greatest rise in bushmeat production was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the yield rose from 78,000 tonnes in 1990 to 90,000 tonnes in 2005. In the Republic of Congo, production almost doubled, from 11,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year in the same time period.
"While the FAOSTAT bushmeat data are probably underestimates and should be regarded with caution, the data are the most readily available official sources of information on production of wild meat in the Congo Basin and are valuable indicators of bushmeat production and consumption trends," says Stefan Ziegler, Programme Officer with WWF Germany, and author of the report.
Wildlife is a significant and direct source of protein for more than 34 million people living in the Congo Basin and bushmeat hunting is a key component of many peoplesâ€™ livelihoods in Central Africa.
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