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Bushmeat (from the French "viande de brousse") hunting is common in sub-Saharan Africa's dense forests. It refers to the hunting of any animal which is not traditionally regarded as a desirable food, but is acceptable especially to poor city dwellers with few choices.

To the extreme horror of animal rights and Great Ape personhood advocates, bushmeat hunters began targeting gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo, as well as other primate species including the now-extinct Miss Waldron's Red Colobus. This undid decades of conservation efforts.

Accordingly, most current reference to 'the bushmeat trade' refers to hunting of primates, specifically of Great Apes which some consider an ape genocide. One view is that eating such closely related species is cannibalism - the recent re-classification of some of these species as hominid has made this view far more common.

As this terminology suggests, the issue of bushmeat hunting is highly politicized, with almost no support for the practice outside the African forests and cities where it is practiced. Many international efforts to stop it have been launched, especially in the US, UK, and Canada. In the countries where the hunting occurs, orphaned apes (deemed too fragile to survive on their own, but also deemed too small to be worth shooting and cutting up, to the hunters) are raised and returned to the wild, as part of these efforts.

In Cameroon where red gorilla populations were especially endangered, the World Wildlife Fund launched an education campaign to teach children about Koko the gorilla, who learned sign language in an American zoo. As awareness of gorilla capacity to learn language and express feelings and care for pets spread, local support for gorilla hunting fell at about the same time. Critics of such efforts argue that there is dispute about the science and the actual language capacity of ape species. However, few of these are supporters of the bushmeat trade, so criticism has in general been muted.

Table of contents
1 Actors
2 One percent
3 Role in African diseases
4 Efforts at eradication
5 External links
6 See also


CIV is a European logging corporation that has been implicated in an outright ape genocide for profit. By opening new roads into remote regions in the Congo, and hiring hunters to feed loggers from the bush, they use bushmeat to subsidize the logging - causing both extinction and deforestation at the same time. Affected regions typically have only 6% of land reserved for wildlife, compared to 10% as a global average.

The American Wildlife Society, WCS, World Wildlife Fund, have been accused of drastically understating the issue and engaging in "feel-good conservation", ignoring the actual wildlife crises. It is a vicious cycle of needing to read and tell good news (to raise money) which leaves the world's worst conservation crisis actually ignored, according to Dale Peterson, author of Eating Apes, U of California press, 2003.

One percent

Some species are legal to hunt and not endangered, and some not. About 1% of the bushmeat trade is in ape meat, however, their small numbers and the attractiveness of hunting them (a gorilla is a quite large animal, and good "payoff" for each cartridge) means the impact is quite extreme:

Apes are slow reproducers (about 1/4 the rate of most mammals) and very intelligent, requiring many years to train their young - so each loss is actually a catastrophic effect. A study in Gabon, the wealthiest country in the region, with 80% of its forest cover still in place, suffered at least a 56% decline in seventeen years - a sheer collapse. This is considered to actually be one of the best cases.

Role in African diseases

Apes also carry human diseases - ebola for instance is epidemic in chimps and gorillas, and spreads quite easily to those eating them. HIV-1 has also been transmitted by people eating chimpanzees.

Efforts at eradication

This is one of many ways in which corporate globalization impacts life on the planet. There is literally no way (other than by naming the corporations involved to any degree, or the countries of origin) to tell which wood has been produced by reliance on ape meat, and which hasn't. As with slavery, the only path to eliminating it might be industry-specific protocols like the Cocoa Protocol.

External links

See also

ape extinction, ape genocide, hunting, Africa