Wildlife in Trade Programme

Bushmeat Trade

Today the term bushmeat is commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild or feral mammals, killed for sustenance or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. To reflect the global nature of hunting of wild animals, Resolution 2.64 of the IUCN General Assembly in Amman in October 2000 referred to wild meat rather than bushmeat. A more worldwide term is game. The term bushmeat crisis tends to be used to describe unsustainable hunting of often endangered wild mammals in West and Central Africa and the humid tropics, depending on interpretation. African hunting predates recorded history; by the 21st century it had become an international issue.

The term bushmeat, also called wildmeat and game meat, refers to meat from non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds hunted for food in tropical forests.Commercial harvesting and the trade of wildlife is considered a threat to biodiversity.

Bushmeat also provides a route for a number of serious tropical diseases to spread to humans from their animal hosts. Bushmeat is used for subsistence in remote areas, while in major towns and cities in bushmeat eating societies it is treated as a delicacy.

While the bushmeat trade has long been recognized as a severe threat to the food resources of indigenous peoples and to wildlife populations in the forests of West and Central Africa, far less attention has been focused on the issue in African savannas, in part due to the misconception that illegal hunting for bushmeat in African savannas is a small-scale phenomenon practiced for subsistence living.

Experts found that the drivers of the bushmeat trade in savanna areas are varied, and include: increasing demand for bushmeat in rural and urban areas; human encroachment on wildlife areas; inadequate penal systems and lack of enforcement; lack of alternative livelihoods and food sources for people living in or near wildlife areas; lack of clear rights over wildlife or land; political instability, corruption and poor governance; demand for wildlife body parts for traditional medicine and ceremonies; and abundant supplies of wire (which is used by bushmeat hunters to make snares).

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