The bushmeat phenomenon continues in Africa, as do efforts to provide alternatives. An expert says the advantages to reducing dependence on bushmeat would include less hunger and poverty and fewer health risks.
SERIOUS HEALTH RISKS
Freddy Manongi is the deputy principal of the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania. He also has a weekly radio show that promotes environmental awareness. In this fifth of a five-part series, Manongi told English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard that one of the main problems caused by eating bushmeat is the transmission of diseases such as Ebola and Marburg from wildlife to humans.
Manongi says uncontrolled bushmeat hunting causes a decline in wildlife, leading to the extinction of some species. Manongi says the bushmeat trade also affects wildlife tourism – a major source of income for African governments – and it can create an imbalance in the wildlife population.
Manongi says the use of bushmeat is driven by the need for food and income and that changing behavior is key to establishing successful alternatives. He believes it would not be easy but could be done with viable and sustainable choices that provide economic incentives. He said options could include: 1) growing crops; 2) raising domestic animals, such as cattle, goats, sheep and fish; and 3) creating wild game ranches for tourists.
Manongi also identifies ways to reduce commercial bushmeat trading: 1) reviewing wildlife policies and changing them if necessary, and 2) reviewing and changing outdated laws dealing with bushmeat practices. He says, “The use of wildlife resources is not by itself a bad thing; they could allow some use of wildlife resources as long as it’s sustainable.”
Manongi says the bushmeat problem is not limited to Africa but also exists in the United States and Europe: “There is someone who was caught selling bushmeat in New York, and there is a case, a legal battle, that’s been going on in New York to try and arrest this person for selling bushmeat.” He says efforts to deal with the issue should go beyond the continent’s boundaries.