What is Bushmeat?

Bush Meat is undoubtedly the single most significant blow to wildlife populations. “Bush Meat” is the word assigned to the unsustainable over utilization of the wildlife resources in Africa and other parts of the World where forests are being logged and simultaneously denuded of its wildlife inhabitants.

In the face of unbelievable odds stacked against the survival of most animal species in the wild, it is difficult to imagine that more than a small percentage of the current species will see the middle of this century in Central Africa.

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The poachers arrested with Chimpanzee meat in Rwenzori NPThe ongoing destruction of habitats, un-sustainable hunting and over utilization of most living recourses in the Bush Meat Crisis, compounded by seemingly endless greed and ongoing wars in many of the pivotal habitat areas, will ultimately lead to the extinction of most species living in the wild today.

Bio-diversity is facing its darkest hour, the problems are almost insurmountable, we are confronted with an extreme situation, and we need to look for extreme solutions to these problems if we are to succeed. Normal conservation policies are no longer enough; we need to look outside that square, if we are to beat this problem. We need to institute a new and more lateral way of approaching species survival. We can do it, it is not inconceivable that conservation organizations around the world, could work together, pool recourses and implement strategies that yesterday may have been considered inappropriate, but today may mean the difference between survival and extinction.

Historically, indigenous people have been utilizing animal meat from the forests for centuries; this has in the past been done sustainably. The picture changed with the arrival of logging companies, who started pushing logging roads from horizon to horizon into impenetrable forest. They then brought in thousands upon thousands of logging staff who needed to be fed, and these would generally arrive without any provision for food. Instead hundreds of hunters would be brought in to kill animals in the surrounding forest to feed the loggers. These hunters are poorly paid, but are allowed to sell excess meat from the forest to generate extra cash, they are even permitted to transport their bounty on the logging trucks as they haul their timber to export yards.

This changed the whole face of forest utilization, the villages got sucked into lucrative forestry logging jobs, the villagers also became reliant on the abundance of meat coming from the forest, which were previously impenetrable, not only were the loggers now being fed, but a whole meat industry developed in the villages and towns. Soon this meat “Bush Meat” found its way abroad, and onto the menus of many eastern restaurants, meat from the forests became a commodity, which soon found itself in every corner of the globe.

The poachers arrested with Chimpanzee meat in Rwenzori NPWild life populations were devastated, driven into pockets of forest in diminished numbers, the carnage goes on, even the isolated areas are now being exploited, and it is believed that all wild animal species will be extinct in the wild in Central Africa by 2050 at the current rate of demise.

The results of a study which started in 1999 to ascertain the extent of the problem were devastating; more than the equivalent meat of 10 million head of cattle was being taken out of the Central African Rain Forests each year. This was only a small percentage of what was actually being killed, as many animals were snared, and rotted away in the forest.

There is now a silence sweeping over the forests, devoid of life this sad state of affairs has been aptly named “Empty Forest Syndrome”

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