New study sheds light on bushmeat hunting threats for large birds, like raptors and hornbills.
The commercial bushmeat trade has caused sharp species declines, and even local extinction, across West and Central Africa.(x) While the hunting of native species can provide up to 100% of the animal protein diet for a rural Central African household, there is a growing demand for "luxury bushmeat" among the high class in urban (and global) markets. This growing industry is not only a conservation concern, but it also poses a significant public health risk as several zoonotic disease outbreaks have been linked to the global bushmeat market.(x, x)
Previous village-based surveys of hunter offtake and markets have shown that mammals and reptiles the most affected by bushmeat trade. However, hunters also consume some animals in forest camps. The effects of in-forest consumption may have been overlooked in these previous surveys which have only focused on bushmeat extracted from the forest.
When researchers examined discarded animal remains at 13 semi-permanent hunting camps in the Ebo Forest, Cameroon, they found “twenty-one species were identified from 49 carcasses, of which birds constituted 55%, mammals 43% and other taxa 2%.” (x)
This previously unstudied threat to large birds in Central Africa highlights new biodiversity conservation challenges for scientists and policy makers alike.
Robin C. Whytock, Ralph Buij, Munir Z. Virani, Bethan J. Morgan. Do large birds experience previously undetected levels of hunting pressure in the forests of Central and West Africa? Oryx, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0030605314000064 (x, PDF)
Nasi, R., A. Taber, and N. Van Vliet. “Empty forests, empty stomachs? Bushmeat and livelihoods in the Congo and Amazon Basins.” International Forestry Review 13.3 (2011): 355-368. (PDF)
Smith, Kristine M., et al. “Zoonotic viruses associated with illegally imported wildlife products.” PLoS One 7.1 (2012): e29505. (x)
Van Vliet, Nathalie. “Livelihood alternatives for the unsustainable use of bushmeat.” Report prepared for the CBD Bushmeat Liason Group. Technical series 60 (2011). (PDF)
Image Credit: White-thighed hornbill (Bycanistes albotibialis)
Top: Photography by Lars Petersson
Bottom: Consuming Nature, National Geographic