Wild meat: is there an appetite for alternatives?

Stephanie Brittain

This blog was originally posted by the International Institute for Environment and Development blog found here

The age-old tradition of hunting wild meat has, in many cases, become unsustainable. Efforts to change local habits have had little effect. Ahead of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity, guest blogger Stephanie Brittain argues that to protect biodiversity, without compromising health and livelihoods, we need to understand much more about why people eat wild meat.

 

Interviews with people from villages close to the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon (Photo: Stephanie Brittain)
Interviews with people from villages close to the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon (Photo: Stephanie Brittain)

This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity calls on the world to recognise biodiversity as critical for safeguarding global food security, and as the foundation of human health.

Sustainable use of our natural resources supports healthy and resilient communities. But when these systems fall out of balance, our wellbeing and the biodiversity that underpins it come under threat.

Hunting for wild meat such as primates, ungulates and rodents has been practiced for hundreds of years by rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa. However, increased pressure and fragmentation of habitat (increases access to forest by hunters), modernised hunting practices (more animals are hunted per trip), rising rural consumption and growing demand from urban markets is making wild meat hunting unsustainable.

The practice is considered an important contributor to declining species populations, particularly slow breeding mammals such as great apes, monkeys and antelopes. In extreme cases, overhunting is resulting in forests empty of wildlife. These depleting animal populations present threats to both conservation and food security.

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