Rafiki, Uganda’s rare silverback mountain gorilla, killed by hunters

RafikiImage copyrightUGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY
Image captionRafiki was thought to be 25 years old when he died

One of Uganda’s best known mountain gorillas, Rafiki, has been killed.

Four men have been arrested, and they face a life sentence or a fine of $5.4m (£4.3m) if found guilty of killing an endangered species.

Investigations showed that Rafiki was killed by a sharp object that penetrated his internal organs.

There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) described Rafiki’s death as a “very big blow”.

The silverback, believed to be around 25-years-old when he died in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas.

This group was described as habituated, meaning that its members were used to human contact.

“The death of Rafiki leaves the group unstable and there is the possibility that it could disintegrate,” Bashir Hangi from the UWA told the BBC.

“It has no leadership at this time and it could be taken over by a wild silverback.”

If that happened, the group would not want to come into contact with humans, which ultimately could affect tourism.

Rafiki eating somethingImage copyrightUGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY
Image captionThere are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in existence

The mountain gorillas are a popular draw for visitors to the country and the UWA relies on the tourists for revenue.

Rafiki himself was very popular with people who had come to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mr Hangi said.

He went missing on 1 June and his body was discovered by a search party the following day.

A UWA team tracked a suspect to a nearby village, where he was found with hunting equipment.

He admitted that he, and three others, had been hunting smaller animals in the park and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence when he was attacked, the UWA said in a statement.

The four men are expected to be charged under a wildlife protection law that was passed last year.

Infographic

The mountain gorilla species is restricted to protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

They can be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and a network of parks in the Virunga Massif range of mountains which straddle the borders of the three countries.

In 2018, the mountain gorilla was removed from the list of critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after intensive conservation efforts, including anti-poaching patrols, paid off.

The IUCN now classifies the species as endangered.

Chinese government approves decision to ban consumption of wild animals

 February 24, 2020

Guards patrol on January 24 outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be the source of the virus.
Guards patrol on January 24 outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to be the source of the virus. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-02-24-20-hnk-intl/h_e9e7718ef4bebc5ffe32d35e32c4469f

China’s top political body approved the decision on Monday to ban the consumption and the illegal trade of wild animals, which some experts believe to be the source of the virus.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved the ban on Monday in a bid to help “safeguard public health and ecological security,” according to Chinese state media.

The move aims to “completely ban the eating of wild animals” while also “cracking down on illegal trade of wildlife,” state media reports.

The use of wild animals for scientific research, medicine and exhibition will now need to go through “strict examination and approval” by the supervising department in accordance with relevant regulations.

This comes after Chinese authorities suspended the trade of wild animals on January 26th in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Also see: https://vegnews.com/2020/2/china-permanently-bans-consumption-of-wild-animals?fbclid=IwAR3noVYTbMnI6IaIkhjREWQSrrA6CW1x95E39D9cZlSdRAIKokPVMFQAD1E

Wuhan under lockdown as coronavirus outbreak kills 17 in China

6 hr 37 min ago

Coronavirus spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought, says WHO official

Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

The Wuhan coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people and infected more than 600 spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.

“We are now seeing second and third generation spread,” said Dr. David Heymann, the chairperson of a WHO committee that is gathering data on the virus.

Third generation means that someone who became infected after handling animals at the market in Wuhan, China, spreads the virus to someone else, who then spreads it to a third person.

The virus initially appeared to spread only by very close contact that would typically occur within a family, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing eating utensils, Heymann said.

Now, he says evidence is accruing that shows more distant contact could spread the virus, such as if a sick person were to sneeze or cough near someone else’s face.

He said there is no evidence at this point that the virus is airborne and could be spread across a room, as happens with the flu or measles.

6 hr 41 min ago

How coronavirus affects your body

3 hr 32 min ago

Travel restrictions placed on third Chinese city

Travel restrictions have been put in place in Ezhou, the third Chinese city to be affected by measures aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.

Ezhou’s railway station has been closed “in order to fully conduct prevention and control of the new type of pneumonia causing coronavirus, effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the safety and health of the people,” according to a Thursday statement from the Ezhou City Coronavirus Disease Prevention Control Headquarters.

Earlier in the day public transport and long distance transport networks were suspended in nearby Huanggang, according to its municipal government.

Huanggang’s central market is temporarily closed, as well as all entertainment venues, public halls, movie theaters and tourism centers.

Cars coming in and out of the city will be checked and searched, and people will have their temperatures taken.

7 hr 2 min ago

Cathay Dragon suspends flights to and from Wuhan amid deadly coronavirus

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Airline Cathay Dragon announced Thursday it is suspending flights to and from Wuhan amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the evolving situation in Wuhan, Cathay Dragon is temporarily suspending flights to and from Wuhan effective January 24, 2020 until 29 February, 2020,” said the company in a statement.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to coordinate with the health authorities in Hong Kong and in all the ports to which we operate flights.”

Cathay Dragon is a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific stock declined 2.1% in Hong Kong Thursday as the aviation sector comes under pressure amid the spread of the coronavirus.

3 hr 37 min ago

Beijing scraps all large-scale New Year Celebrations

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Authorities in Beijing have canceled all large-scale Chinese New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan coronavirus.

“In order to control the epidemic, protect people’s lives and health, reduce the mass gathering and ensure people to have a harmonious and peaceful Spring Festival, it is decided to cancel all the large-scale events, including temple fairs, in Beijing as of today,” read a Thursday statement from the governmental Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau.

“Citizens shall strengthen the preventative measures and support the decision. We will notify the policy changes with the epidemic development … And wish all citizens a happy Spring Festival,” the statement continued.

Chinese New Year 2020 runs from Saturday 25 through February 8.

7 hr 47 min ago

What do we know about Wuhan?

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, is the capital city of Hubei province in Central China.

It is the 10th most populated city in China, with 8,837,300 residents in 2018, according to the National Statistics Bureau.

The city is widely referred to as having a population of 11 million. This includes migrant workers and other residents who do not have Wuhan residency registration, and who are hence not included in the national census.

The city is home to some of the top universities in China, including Huazhong University of Science and Technology (ranked ninth in the country), Wuhan University (ranked 12th) and China University of Geosciences (23rd in China).

Tennis player Li Na hails from the city, which is also famous as the birthplace of the 1911 armed uprising that eventually overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty.

In 2018 the city had 398 hospitals and 17 centers for disease control and prevention out of a total 6,340 medical institutions.

Wuhan has a total number of 95,300 beds in hospitals and community clinics, and 136,300 people are employed in its medical institutions.

The average life expectancy in the city is 81.29 years.

8 hr 2 min ago

A second city has been placed under lockdown

Huanggang, a neighboring city about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Wuhan, will be effectively locked down due to risks associated with the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese state media reported.

The Hubei Huanggang New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention and Control Command, a task force set up to deal with the crisis, said in a statement that at midnight, the city’s subway and train stations will close, per a report in the People’s Daily, a state-run newspaper. All theaters, internet cafes and indoor public culture, tourism and entertainment facilities in the city will also stop business, People’s Daily reported.

Like Wuhan, Huanggang is located on the banks of the Yangtze River. The entire administrative area of Huanggang has a population of 7.5 million, but People’s Daily reported that the lockdown only applies to the urban area, which is only a part of the total population.

9 hr 7 min ago

More cases confirmed throughout China

People wear face masks as they wait for arriving passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on January 23.
People wear face masks as they wait for arriving passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on January 23. Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Regional health authorities in China have confirmed 13 new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in mainland China to 611.

Eight more cases were confirmed in Beijing. Shaanxi Province and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region confirmed three and two cases, respectively.

Those are the first cases that have been confirmed in Xinjiang and Shaanxi — meaning that of the 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities under the control of the People’s Republic of China, only five have not reported confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus as of midday Thursday.

They are:

  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Gansu Province
  • Qinghai Province
  • Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government has not formally confirmed the presence of the virus in the city, but said it is investigating two “highly suspected” cases. Preliminary tests of the first individual were positive for the virus.

The self-governing island of Taiwan has reported a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

9 hr 38 min ago

“People aren’t sure when shops will be going back to normal,” Wuhan resident says

The Wuhan New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Command — a task-force set up to deal with the crisis — said in a statement that Wuhan has a sufficient supply and reserve of food, medical supplies and commodities.

“There is no need for the general public of the city to panic or hoard in order to prevent unnecessary wastes,” the command said.

However, there is still unease among many in the city.

Jan Renders, a 29-year-old PhD student in Wuhan, told CNN that many shops are closing for the Lunar New Year holiday, so many people had already been stocking up on supplies. Renders, who has lived in Wuhan for the last two and a half months, said he was able to stock up on food for at least a week.

“But of course people aren’t sure whether shops will be going back to normal soon,” he said.

Another man in Wuhan sent CNN a picture inside a grocery store Thursday morning that showed several empty shelves. The man, who asked not to be identified, said most of the food was sold out.

This photograph taken Thursday morning shows inside a grocery store in Wuhan.
This photograph taken Thursday morning shows inside a grocery store in Wuhan.
10 hr 2 min ago

Wuhan is a London-sized city

A man wears a mask while walking in the street on Wednesday in Wuhan
A man wears a mask while walking in the street on Wednesday in Wuhan Getty Images

Wuhan, the city where the outbreak originated, is home to more than 11 million people — that’s as big, or bigger than London, the largest city by population in the European Union.

It’s the biggest city in all of central China — and unsurprisingly, is considered the political, economic and transport capital of the region.

Located in Hubei province on the confluence of the Yangtze River and its largest tributary, the Han River, the city is often referred to as “jiu sheng tong qu,” meaning it’s considered the main thoroughfare of nine provinces.

In other words, Wuhan is huge and densely populated, with people coming and going every day — making the outbreak and lockdown a nightmare for authorities, especially ahead of Lunar New Year this weekend.

To put it in perspective: The lockdown is like closing down all transportation for a city more than three times the size of Chicago, two days before Christmas.

More about Wuhan: Wuhan is a major manufacturing city with a heavy focus on automobile and medical equipment: Bosch and PSA both relocated their China headquarters to Wuhan recently.

The city, spanning 8,494 square kilometers, has played a major role in the government’s plan to rejuvenate the nation’s central region for more than a decade.

But the city’s historical importance can be traced back more than 3,000 years. Wuhan is listed as one of the Famous Historical and Culture Cities by the state and is home to the ruins of Panlong City.

Read more about Wuhan here.

3 hr 39 min ago

The Chinese government announced the highways out of Wuhan are closed

Chinatopix/AP
Chinatopix/AP

The Wuhan New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Command — a Chinese task-force set up to deal with the crisis — has announced the closure of highways out of the city, a move it called a “necessary act to stop the spreading of the epidemic.”

However, minutes later the announcement was removed from the website. It’s unclear why.

The decision to effectively cut off Wuhan from the rest of the world has sparked fears among some on social media about the availability of food and medicine inside the city.

Flights out of Wuhan had already been suspended and public transport in the city has stopped.

10 hr 41 min ago

People are apparently trying to get out of Wuhan — and Chinese social media users are not happy about it

Workers use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan at a train station in Hangzhou on Thursday, January 23.
Workers use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan at a train station in Hangzhou on Thursday, January 23. Chinatopix via AP

Fear and anxiety is mounting in China, with controversy on social media over residents who apparently fled Wuhan ahead of the partial lockdown enforced on Thursday.

On the microblogging platform Weibo, people shared their fears over the virus, as well as cautionary warnings. “Don’t panic and try not to go out,” one person warned.

Another person posted they had thought about fleeing Wuhan. “I was thinking about my parents and children — if I bring them, where can we escape to?” read the post.

“Tomorrow will there be a line to snatch supplies? Will the next step be to send troops here to maintain order? By spring, will this explode into an epidemic? Or by May, will Wuhan have been restored to peace and goodness?”

Controversy over evacuees: On early Thursday morning, train stations in Wuhan were packed with people trying to get out of the city before the blockade went into effect. Crowds jammed together, trying to get on the last few trains out of the city of 11 million people.

The rush to get out has even got its own hashtag on Weibo — #EscapeFromWuhan.

But the mass exodus has been met with anger from many Weibo users, who accused people leaving Wuhan of being selfish and irresponsible as they could then potentially spread the virus.

“Wuhan people, get out of Shanghai,” one person posted. “Don’t sneak in and spread chaos.”

Hunting responsible for mammal declines in half of intact tropical forests

https://phys.org/news/2019-05-responsible-mammal-declines-intact-tropical.html

Hunting responsible for mammal declines in half of intact tropical forests
The authors assert that, ‘Retaining the integrity of intact tropical forests will not be possible if global and national environmental strategies do not address ongoing hunting practices.’ Credit: Ruth Archer from Pixabay

Defaunation—the loss of species or decline of animal populations—is reaching even the most remote and pristine tropical forests. Within the tropics, only 20% of the remaining area is considered intact, where no logging or deforestation has been detected by remote sensing. However, a new study publishing May 14 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, led by Ana Benítez-López from Radboud University, the Netherlands, predicts that even under the seemingly undisturbed canopy, hunting is reducing populations of large mammals by 40% on average, largely due to increased human accessibility to these remote areas.

Overhunting, as opposed to deforestation, is undetectable by  techniques, and to date, there were vast understudied areas in the tropics where hunting impacts on mammal communities were unknown. In this study, the authors have projected for the first time the spatial patterns of hunting-induced mammal defaunation in the tropics and have identified areas where hunting impacts on mammal communities are expected to be high.

Predicted hotspots of hunting-induced defaunation are located in West and Central Africa, particularly Cameroon, and in Central America, NW South America and areas in SE Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and SW China). Predictions were based on a newly developed hunting regression model, based upon socio-economic drivers, such as human population density and hunters’ access points, and species traits, such as body size. The model relies on more than 3,200 abundance data estimates from the last 40 years and included more than 160 studies and hundreds of authors studying approximately 300 mammal species across the tropics.

These defaunation maps are expected to become an important input for large-scale biodiversity assessments, which have routinely ignored hunting impacts due to data paucity, and may inform species extinction risk assessments, conservation planning and progress evaluations to achieve global biodiversity targets.

Ancient humans hunted monkeys for tens of thousands of years

Early Sri Lankans turned the bones of the monkeys and squirrels they hunted into these projectile points.

N. AMANO

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/ancient-humans-hunted-monkeys-tens-thousands-years

If you picture early humans dining, you likely imagine them sitting down to a barbecue of mammoth, aurochs, and giant elk meat. But in the rainforests of Sri Lanka, where our ancestors ventured about 45,000 years ago, people hunted more modest fare, primarily monkeys and tree squirrels. Then they turned the bones of these animals into projectiles to hunt more of them. The practice continued for tens of thousands of years, making this the longest known record of humans hunting other primates, archaeologists report today.

Many scientists believed such forests lacked the resources for early humans to successfully settle. Instead, our ancestors apparently quickly adapted to this and other challenging environments (such as high elevations and deserts), in part by figuring out how to reliably hunt difficult-to-catch prey.

To conduct the research, archaeologist Patrick Roberts of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (SHH) in Jena, Germany, and colleagues analyzed animal bones recovered from Sri Lanka’s Fa Hien Cave in Kalutara during excavations from 2009 and 2012. Materials and artifacts including charcoal, faunal remains, shell beads, and bone and stone tools indicate people occupied the site from about 45,000 to 4000 years ago.

The scientists analyzed almost 14,500 animal bones and teeth from four periods of occupation and found that gazelle-size mammals were the most common. Monkeys (primarily macaques and purple-faced langurs, the latter of which inhabit the tallest trees, reaching some 45 meters) and tree squirrels made up more than 70% of the identified remains, which also included otters, fish, reptiles, and birds. Fewer than 4% of the bones came from deer, pigs, and bovids, such as buffalo. Many bones bore cut marks from butchery and had been burned, signs that humans processed them for meat.

Early humans settled in this Sri Lankan cave 45,000 years ago.

O. WEDAGE

The archaeologists also uncovered numerous microliths (minutely shaped stone tools), whose purpose is as yet unknown, but were likely used for hunting. In addition, they identified some three dozen finished or partially completed bone projectile points. These ancient humans were using “bones from the hunted monkeys to hunt more monkeys,” says study co-author Noel Amano, an archaeologist at SHH.

Finally, the remains reveal that the early Sri Lankans were sustainable hunters, primarily targeting adult animals, the scientists report today in Nature Communications. “They hunted these animals for nearly 40,000 years, without driving any to extinction,” Roberts says. “So they must have had sophisticated knowledge of monkey life cycles and an understanding of how to use resources wisely.”

The findings support the idea that, as humans spread across the world, they had to shift from hunting large, roaming animals like mammoth and bison to smaller prey that “could withstand a higher rate of predation,” says archaeologist Robin Dennell at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study.

These ancient humans probably already knew how to hunt more agile and elusive game, says Steve Kuhn, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. People had started to hunt small animals in Eurasia about the same time they first entered Sri Lanka, he notes, and so likely arrived with these skills.

Kuhn also cautions that the early Sri Lankans might not have been such wise resource managers; more likely the human populations were small and “didn’t make much of an impact.” They hunted more monkeys and squirrels and fewer deer or pigs, he thinks, simply because the smaller animals were likely more abundant. Like those of us who don’t have time to shop and cook, and so grab a burger, these early people may have simply hunted and dined on the animals that were most readily available.

Why poachers persist in hunting bushmeat — even though it’s dangerous

(jbdodane/Flickr)
(jbdodane/Flickr)

The illegal hunting of bushmeat, or game meat, has long distressed wildlife conservationists. It has persisted in sub-Saharan Africa, attracting international attention and debate. Enforcement by authorities and community-based initiatives have been tried as anti-poaching approaches, but with mixed results. Overall, wildlife populations have continued to plummet.

Why has poaching refused to go away? The answer, as suggested by poachers themselves, is simple: because poaching pays.

We conducted a study with poachers in western Tanzania. Our findings shed new light on what motivates people to poach and shows that poachers benefit considerably while the costs are negligible. The study also knocks down the general perception about who poachers are – they’re not necessarily the poorest of the poor. Rather than hunting for basic subsistence, they take risks to widen their livelihood options and improve their situation.

Our research therefore suggests that current approaches to dealing with poaching are misplaced for a simple reason: poachers vary widely. Bottom-up, or community-based, interventions like providing meat at a reduced cost, are unlikely to work unless the benefits can offset what they gain through poaching. And for those who are poaching out of necessity, top-down measures, like longer prison sentences or greater fines, are unlikely to be effective because they don’t have alternative ways to make an income.

Cost benefit analysis

Our study focused on individuals who lived in villages that bordered two premier national parks in Tanzania: Serengeti National Park and Ruaha National Park.

We interviewed 200 poachers, asking them questions about their lives, livelihood alternatives and motivations for poaching. Respondents volunteered information freely and were neither paid nor given incentives for their participation.

We found that illegal hunters are making rational decisions. They earn far more through hunting than through all the other options combined for rural farmers. Over a 12-month period, poachers on average generated US$425. This is considerably more than the amount earned through typical means – such as trade, small business, livestock sales and agricultural sales – which amount to about US$258 each year.

Obviously, benefits are meaningless unless compared to the costs involved. Hunting large animals in the bush carries economic and physical risks. Hunters could get injured, risk imprisonment or lose the opportunity to farm or do other forms of legitimate business.

But, in places like rural Tanzania, the benefits outweigh these costs.

Where farming is the main income generator, there is lots of time available to hunt between planting and harvesting seasons. And with high formal unemployment, labour in a typical household is rarely a limiting factor. We compared poaching and non-poaching households and found that the opportunity costs forfeited by poaching households amounted to just US$116, far below the amount gained through bushmeat sales of US$425. Because other income generating opportunities are few and pay little, poachers have little to lose by poaching.

Other economic costs may come in the form of arrests, imprisonment and subsequent fines. Each time a poacher entered the bush, he faced a 0.07% chance of being arrested. Once arrested, poachers may be fined, imprisoned, beaten or let off. Two-thirds of poachers had never been arrested. Those who had spent just 0.04 days in prison when averaged over a career of 5.2 years. Of those arrested, just over half (56%) had been fined, with fines averaging US$39. For every trip taken, poachers paid just two cents when averaged over their career.

The story here is simple. The majority of poachers never get arrested. And those who do pay a penalty that is paltry compared to the income typically earned.

Physical costs, including injury and possibly even death, have been far more difficult to assess. Outside Serengeti National Park, dangerous wildlife was frequently encountered in the bush and one-third of the poachers questioned had been injured during their hunting careers. Recovery times averaged slightly more than a month. But when averaged over the number of days a poacher spends in the bush (1,901 days), the likelihood of being injured on any given day was remarkably low, just 0.02%.

Still, poaching isn’t easy. Eight in ten respondents claimed it was a difficult activity and that they did it primarily because they didn’t make enough money from legal activities.

Moderately poor

Poverty has long been assumed to be a primary driver of poaching activities, however it may not be that poachers are the poorest of the poor.

Our analysis of poachers living along the borders of Ruaha National Park, revealed that they are poor, but not absolutely poor. In the language of the economist Jeffrey Sachs, many poachers may be “moderately poor”. They are unlikely to go hungry in the short term and are able to focus more on expanding their livelihood options.

Regarding their economic self-perception, these poaching households were similar to non-poaching households. Over half (54%) of poaching households considered themselves economically “average” rather than “poor”.

So, if poachers don’t consider themselves to be poor and consider poaching difficult, why do they do it? The answer may lay in a concept that the Nobel Peace Prize winner Amartya Sen has called“capability deprivation”.

Many poachers lack choices by which to improve their lives. They lack access to income which reduces their chances for further education or entrepreneurial opportunity. Deprived of capabilities to make a better life, many poachers —- at least in Tanzania —- continue to poach to gain agency, rather than just to make ends meet.

One respondent, outside Ruaha National Park, stated that after poaching for six years, he gave it up. His livestock numbers had grown enough to ensure sufficient income the whole year through. This poacher’s story reveals that some threshold of affluence is attainable for longtime poachers to curb illegal activity.

Results here present a new twist for those seeking to protect dwindling wildlife populations. It means that strategies to stop poaching can no longer focus merely on the poorest of the poor. Without other ways to improve their livelihoods, even poachers who can meet their basic needs will continue poaching. For one really simple reason: it pays.

Eli Knapp, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biology and Earth Science, Houghton College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Wikipedia on Bush”meat”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushmeat

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.[1] Commercial harvesting and the trade of wildlife is considered a threat to biodiversity.[2]

Bushmeat also provides a route for a number of serious tropical diseases to spread to humans from their animal hosts.[3][4] Bushmeat is used for sustenance in remote areas, while in major towns and cities in bushmeat eating societies it is treated as a delicacy.[5]

Nomenclature[edit]

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. In West Africa (primarily Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria), Achatina achatina a giant African snail, is also gathered, sold, eaten, and monitored as part of the bushmeat trade.[6][7][8] 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 for terrestrial wild animals 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.[9]

Extent[edit]

The volume of the bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa was estimated at 1-5 million tonnes per year at the turn of the century.[10] According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in 2014, approximately 5 million tonnes were still being consumed per year in the Congo Basin.[5]

For the people of this region, bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein in the diet, making it a significant commercial industry. According to a 1994 study in Gabon, annual sales were estimated at US$50 million. The study found that bushmeat accounted for more than half of meat sold in local markets, with primates representing 20% of the total bushmeat.[11]

Dynamics[edit]

Two Malagasy hunters stand near a stream, one holding a gun, the other holding a lemur with a white head.

Endangered species, including lemurs from Madagascar are killed for bushmeat despite this being illegal.

Bushmeat is often smoked prior to consumption.

Logging penetration of forests[edit]

Logging concessions operated by companies in African forests have been closely linked to the bushmeat trade. Because they provide roads, trucks and other access to remote forests, they are the primary means for the transportation of hunters and meat between forests and urban centres. Some, including the Congolaise Industrielle du Bois (CIB) in the Republic of Congo, have partnered with governments and international conservation organizations to regulate the bushmeat trade within the concessions where they operate. Numerous solutions are needed; because each country has different circumstances, traditions and laws, no one solution will work in every location.[12]

Overfishing[edit]

In the case of Ghana, international over-exploitation of African fishing grounds has increase demand for bushmeat. Both EU-subsidized fleets and local commercial fleets have depleted fish stocks, leaving local people to supplement their diets with animals hunted from nature reserves. Over 30 years of data link sharp declines in both mammal populations and the biomass of 41  wildlife species with a decreased supply of fish.[13]

Public preference[edit]

In the case of Liberia in West Africa, bushmeat is widely eaten and is considered a delicacy.[14] A 2004 public opinion survey found that bushmeat ranked second behind fish amongst residents of the capital Monrovia as a preferred source of protein.[14] Of households where bushmeat was served, 80% of residents said they cooked it “once in a while,” while 13% cooked it once a week and 7% cooked bushmeat daily.[14] The survey was conducted during the last civil war, and bushmeat consumption is now believed to be far higher.[14]

Role in spread of diseases[edit]

The transmission of highly variable retrovirus chains causes zoonotic diseases. Outbreaks of the Ebola virus in the Congo Basin and in Gabon in the 1990s have been associated with the butchering of apes and consumption of their meat.[15] Bushmeat hunters in Central Africa infected with the human T-lymphotropic virus were closely exposed to wild primates.[16]

HIV[edit]

Results of research on wild chimpanzees in Cameroon indicate that they are naturally infected with the simian foamy virus and constitute a reservoir of HIV-1, a precursor of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in humans.[17] There are several distinct strains of HIV, indicating that this cross-species transfer has occurred several times.[18] Researchers have shown that HIV originated from a similar virus in primates called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV); it is likely that HIV was initially transferred to humans after having come into contact with infected bushmeat.[19]

Animals used as bushmeat may also carry other diseases such as smallpox, chicken pox, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rabies, yellow fever and yaws.[20] African squirrels (Heliosciurus, Funisciurus) have been implicated as reservoirs of the monkeypox virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[21] The bubonic plague bacteria can transfer to humans when handling or eating prairie dogs.[22]

In many instances, catching the diseases mentioned above often occurs due to the cutting of the meat, in which animal blood, and other fluids may wind up on the people cutting it, thereby infecting them. Another way that people get infected is due to the fact that some portions of the meat may not be completely cooked. This often occurs due to the type of heating source employed: open fires over which the meat is simply hung.[23] Improper preparation of any infected animal may be fatal.[24]

Ebola[edit]

The Ebola virus, for which the primary host is suspected to be fruit bats, has been linked to bushmeat. Between the first recorded outbreak in 1976 and the largest in 2014, the virus has transferred from animals to humans only 30 times, despite large numbers of bats being killed and sold each year. In Ghana, for instance, 100,000 bats are sold annually, yet not a single case of transmission has been reported in the country. Primates may carry the disease, having contracted the disease from bat droppings or fruit touched by the bats. Like humans, it is often fatal for the primate.[5]

Although primates and other species may be intermediates, evidence suggests people primarily get the virus from bats. Since most people buy pre-cooked bushmeat, hunters and people preparing the food have the highest risk of infection. Hunters usually shoot, net, scavenge or catapult their prey, and studies indicate that most hunters handle live bats, come in contact with their blood, and often get bitten or scratched.[5]

In 2014, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa originated in Guéckédou in south-eastern Guinea and was linked to bushmeat after it was learned that the first case came from a family that hunted two species of fruit bat,[5] Hypsignathus monstrosus and Epomops franqueti.[25] A two-year-old child from that family, dubbed “Child Zero”, died from the disease on December 6, 2013. Despite the risk, surveys pre-dating the 2014 outbreak indicate that people who eat bushmeat are usually unaware of the risks and view it as healthy food. In Western Africa, bush meat is an old tradition, associated with proper nutrition. Because livestock production is minimal, people often consume bushmeat in a way comparable to how European societies consume rabbit or deer meat. Media coverage of the 2014 outbreak and its link to bushmeat has been criticized because it has failed to focus on the primary risk of infection, which is person-to-person.[5]

This was exemplified when a major Nigerian newspaper implied that eating dog meat was a healthy alternative to bush meat.[26] However, as human populations grow, the interactions between humans and wildlife will increase, making events like the 2014 outbreak more likely.[5]

Impact upon animal species[edit]

Pygmy hippos are among the species illegally hunted for food in Liberia.[27] The World Conservation Union estimates that there are fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos remaining in the wild.[28]

The consumption of bushmeat threatens a wide range of species, including species that are endangered and threatened with extinction. For example, a range of endangered species are hunted bushmeat in Liberia.[27]

Species hunted for food in Liberia include elephants, pygmy hippopotamus, chimpanzees, leopards, duikers, and other monkeys.[27] Forest rangers in Liberia say that bushmeat poachers will kill any forest animal they encounter.[27]

Effect on great apes[edit]

A gorilla in the DR Congo, 2008. The use of buckshot has helped bushmeat hunters target gorillas by allowing them to more easily kill the dominant male silverback.

The great apes of Central and West Africa—gorillas and chimpanzees—are nearly ubiquitously sold as bushmeat throughout the region, and a study from 1995 suggests that the off-take is unsustainable.[11] With the exception of a 1995 report from Cameroon, where gorillas were considered a target species for hunters, Central and West African hunters do not appear to target them.[29] Historically, poachers have favored hunting chimpanzees because they flee when one is shot. Gorillas, however, only became easy targets when chevrotine ammunition became available, allowing the hunters to more easily kill the dominant male silverback whose role it is to defend his troop.[11]

Generally, great apes constitute a minor portion of the bushmeat trade. Although a 1996 study indicated that approximately 1.94% of animal carcasses sold and consumed in Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo belonged to great apes, it accounted for 2.23% of the biomass of the meat sold, which is significant for ape populations relative to their ecosystem. Furthermore, these numbers may not have accurately represented the extent of the problem for the following reasons:[29]

  1. Vendors may not have admitted the sale of great ape meat because it is illegal;
  2. The carcasses are large, and may therefore have been consumed locally rather than been transported to large markets;
  3. Great ape hunting usually peaks when new forest areas are made accessible as they are unwary when unfamiliar with humans, but later hunting declines;
  4. It is nearly impossible to visually distinguish the meat source when it has been smoked;
  5. Secondary effects, such as unintended deaths from traps are not represented in market data.

During the time interval between a study from 1981–1983 and another study between 1998–2002 in Gabon, ape population density fell 56%, despite the country retaining nearly 80% of its original forest cover.[30] This decline was primarily associated with the transformation of the bushmeat trade from subsistence level to unregulated, commercial hunting, facilitated by transportation infrastructure intended for logging purposes.[11][30] Unsustainable hunting practices along with habitat loss makes the extinction of these endangered primates more likely.[31]

The Height of Hedonism: Shoppers eating reindeer meat?

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http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/poll/2014/dec/08/would-you-eat-reindeer-meat-lidl

The supermarket chain Lidl is offering shoppers the chance to try reindeer meat in the run up to Christmas. Animal rights groups have made their displeasure known, saying other wild animals are being systematically shot to protect supplies for retailers, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped people from giving it a try. Would you eat reindeer meat?

 Would you eat reindeer meat?
    1. Yes, it’s just like any other meat
    2. No! I couldn’t eat Rudolph

 B.  NO! Here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/poll/2014/dec/08/would-you-eat-reindeer-meat-lidl

Ebola a Symptom of Ecological and Social Collapse

The global environment is collapsing and dying under the weight of inequitable over-population and ecosystem loss.

“We learn the meaning of enough and how to share or it is the end of being.” ― Dr. Glen Barry

The surging Ebola epidemic is the result of broad-based ecological and social collapse including rainforest loss, over-population, poverty and war. This preventable environmental and human tragedy demonstrates the extent to which the world has gone dramatically wrong as ecosystem collapse, inequity, grotesque injustice, religious extremism, nationalistic militarism, and resurgent authoritarianism threaten our species and planet’s very being.

Any humane person is appalled by the escalating Ebola crisis, and let’s be clear expressing these concerns regarding causation is NOT an attempt to hijack a tragedy. Things happen for a reason, and Ebola was preventable, and future catastrophes of potentially greater magnitude can be foreseen and avoided by the truth.

The single greatest truth underlying the Ebola tragedy is that humanity is systematically dismantling the ecosystems that make Earth habitable. In particular, the potential for Ebola outbreaks and threats from other emergent diseases is made worse by cutting down forests [1]. Exponentially growing human populations and consumption – be it subsistence agriculture or mining for luxury consumer items – are pushing deeper into African old-growth forests where Ebola circulated before spillover into humans.

Poverty stricken communities in West Africa are increasingly desperate, and are eating infected “bushmeat” such as bats and gorilla, bringing them into contact with infected wildlife blood. Increasingly fragmented forests, further diminished by climate change, are forcing bats to find other places to live that are often amongst human communities.

Some 90% of West Africa’s original forests have already been lost. Over half of Liberia’s old-growth forests have recently been sold for industrial logging by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s post-war government. Only 4% of Sierra Leone’s forest cover remains and they are expected to totally disappear soon under the pressure of logging, agriculture, and mining.

My recently published peer-reviewed scientific research [2] on ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse indicates more natural ecosystems have been lost than the global environment can handle without collapsing. Recently published science reports that 50% of Earth’s wildlife has died (in fact been murdered) in the last 40 years [3].

Loss of natural life-giving habitats has consequences. We are each witnesses to and participants in global ecosystem collapse.

There are other major social ills which potentially foster global pandemics. Rising inequity, abject poverty, and lack of justice threaten Earth’s and humanity’s very being. These ills and global ecosystem collapse are causing increased nationalistic war, migration and rise of authoritarian corporatism. West Africa has been ravaged by war and poverty for decades, which shows little signs of abating, particularly since natural habitats for community based sustainable development are nearly gone.

War breeds disease. It is no coincidence that the 1918 flu pandemic – the last great global disease outbreak that killed an estimated 50-100 million – occurred just as the ravages of World War I were ending. Conditions after ecosystems are stripped by over-population and poverty are not that different – each providing ravaged landscapes that are prime habitat for disease organisms.

West Africa’s ecological collapse has brought people into contact with blood from infected animals causing the Ebola epidemic. Once human infection occurs, ecologically denuded, conflict ridden, over-populated, and squalid impoverished communities are ripe for a pandemic. As the Ebola virus threatens to become endemic to the region, it potentially offers a permanent base from which infections can indefinitely continue to spread globally.

 

Since 911 America has slashed all other spending as it militarizes, viewing all sources of conflict as resolvable by waging perma-war. Africa needs doctors and the U.S. sends the military. Both terrorism and infectious disease are best prevented by long-term investments in equitably reducing poverty and meeting human needs – including universal health-care, living wage jobs, education, family planning, and establishment of greater global medical rapid response capabilities.

We are all in this together. Our over-populated, over-consuming, inequitable human dominated Earth continues to wildly careen toward biosphere collapse as sheer sum consumption overwhelms nature. West Africa’s 2010 population of 317 million people is still growing at 2.35%, and is expected to nearly double in 25 years, even as squalor, lack of basic needs, ecosystem loss, and pestilence increase. This can never, ever be ecologically or socially sustainable, and can only end in ruin.

Equity, education, condoms, and lower taxes and other incentives to stabilize and then reduce human population are a huge part of the solution for a just, equitable, and sustainable future. Otherwise Earth will limit human numbers with Ebola and worse. It may be happening already.

We are one human family and in a globalized world no nation is an island unto itself. By failing to invest in reducing poverty and in meeting basic human needs in Africa and globally (even as we temporarily enrich ourselves by gorging upon the destruction of their natural ecosystems), we in the over-developed world ensure that much of the world is fertile ground for disease and war. There is no way to keep Ebola and other social and ecological scourges out of Europe and America if they overwhelm the rest of humanity.

Ebola is what happens when the rich ignore poverty, as well as environmental and social decline, falsely believing they are not their concern. There can be no security ever again for anybody as long as billions live in abject poverty on a couple dollars a day as a few hundred people control half of Earth’s wealth.

We learn the meaning of enough and how to share or it is the end of being.

Walmart parking lots and iPads don’t sustain or feed you. Healthy ecosystems and land do. The hairless ape with opposable thumbs – that once showed so much potential – has instead become an out of control, barbaric and ecocidal beast with barely more sentience of its environmental constraints than yeast on sugar.

Ebola is very, very serious but can be beat with public health investments, coming together and showing courage, and by dealing with underlying causes. In the short-term, it is absolutely vital that the world organizes a massive infusion of doctors and quarantined hospital beds into West Africa immediately, even as we work on the long-term solutions highlighted here.

Ultimately commitments to sustainable community development, universal health care and education, free family planning, global demilitarization, equity, and ecosystem protection and restoration are the only means to minimize the risk of emergent disease. Unless we come together now as one human family and change fast – by cutting emissions, protecting ecosystems, having fewer kids, ending war, investing in ending abject poverty, and embracing agro-ecology – we face biosphere collapse and the end of being.

A pathway exists to global ecological sustainability; yet it requires shared sacrifice and for us all to be strong, as we come together to vigorously resist all sources of ecocide. It is up to each and every one of us to commit our full being to sustaining ecology and living gently upon Earth… or our ONE SHARED BIOSPHERE collapses and being ends

I desperately hope that Ebola does not become a global pandemic killing hundreds of millions or even billions. But if it does, it is a natural response from an Earth under siege defending herself from our own ignorant yet willful actions. We have some urgent changes to make as a species, let’s get going today before it is too late.

###

[1] We Are Making Ebola Outbreaks Worse by Cutting Down Forests: Mother Jones

[2] Barry, G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 542-563. Read online for personal use only: http://bit.ly/MEQ_Biosphere

[3] Living Planet Index: Zoological Society of London and WWF

 

Support Earth through a donation to EcoInternet at http://www.climateark.org/shared/donate/

Is bushmeat behind the Ebola outbreak?

Ebola: Is bushmeat behind the outbreak?

Bushmeat

Bushmeat is believed to be the origin of the current Ebola outbreak. The first victim’s family hunted bats, which carry the virus. Could the practice of eating bushmeat, which is popular across Africa, be responsible for the current crisis?

The origin has been traced to a two-year-old child from the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea, an area where batmeat is frequently hunted and eaten.

The infant, dubbed Child Zero, died on 6 December 2013. The child’s family stated they had hunted two species of bat which carry the Ebola virus.

Bushmeat or wild animal meat covers any animal that is killed for consumption including antelopes, chimpanzees, fruit bats and rats. It can even include porcupines and snakes.

In some remote areas it is a necessary source of food – in others it has become a delicacy.

In Africa’s Congo Basin, people eat an estimated five million tonnes of bushmeat per year, according to the Centre of International Forestry Research.

Ideal hosts

But some of these animals can harbour deadly diseases. Bats carry a whole range of viruses and studies have shown that some species of fruit bats can harbour Ebola.

Via their droppings or fruit they have touched, bats can then in turn infect other non-human primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees. For them, like us, this can be deadly. Bats on the other hand can escape from it unscathed. This makes them an ideal host for the virus.

A bushmeat vendor in the Cantoments Market in Accra, selling grasscutters, bats, fish, antelope and moreCooked or smoked bushmeat is not usually harmful

Exactly how the virus “spills over” into humans is still not clear, says Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham. There’s often an intermediate species involved, like primates such as chimpanzees, but evidence shows people can get the virus directly from bats, he told BBC Inside Science.

But it is difficult for the virus to jump the species barrier from animals into humans, he adds. The virus first has to “somehow gain access to the cells in which it can replicate” by contact with infected blood.

Most people buy bushmeat from markets once it has already been cooked, so it is those hunting or preparing the raw meat that are at highest risk.

The current outbreak shows that, however difficult or rare it is, infection is clearly possible – though it must be remembered that each further infection, from Child Zero to today, has been caused by contact with an infected person.

Bitten and scratched

There has been talk of banning bushmeat, but that may simply drive it underground, experts have previously warned.

Hunting bushmeat is also a longstanding tradition, explains Dr Marcus Rowcliffe from the Zoological Society of London,

“It’s a meat-eating society – there’s a feeling that if you do not have meat every day, you haven’t properly eaten. Although you can get other forms of meat, there’s traditionally very little livestock production. It’s not so different from Europeans eating rabbits and deer.”

A Ghanaian vendor offers his catch known as ''bushmeat'' on route between Kumasi and Accra on 8 February 2008 Many West Africans eat bushmeat
Dried bush meat, at the Ajegunle-Ikorodu market in Lagos, Nigeria (13 August 2014) It is sold in markets across the region
Smoked bat carcasses for sale in GhanaMore than 100,000 bats are thought to be eaten in Ghana each year

In Ghana, for example, currently unaffected by the outbreak, fruit bats are widely hunted. To understand how people interact with this particular type of bushmeat, researchers surveyed nearly 600 Ghanaians about their practices relating to bats.

The study found that hunters used several different techniques to kill their prey including shooting, netting, scavenging and catapulting. All hunters reported handling live bats, which often meant they came into contact with blood and in some instances were bitten and scratched.

‘Healthy food’

These hunters are therefore the most at risk of contracting viruses present in bats, explains one of the authors, Dr Olivier Restif from the University of Cambridge.

The work also uncovered that the scale of the bat bushmeat trade in Ghana was much higher than previously thought, with more than 100,000 bats killed and sold every year.

“People who eat bat bushmeat are rarely aware of any potential risk associated with consumption. They tend to see it as healthy food,”…

More: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29604204