Texas game warden wounded while illegally hunting avoided felony charges, kept job

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150705-texas-game-warden-wounded-while-illegally-hunting-avoided-felony-charges-kept-job.ece

AUSTIN — A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden who was illegally hunting when he was shot in 2013 was allowed to keep his job and face a fine rather than felony charges, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

Off-duty Game Warden Chris Fried was bow hunting without a permit when he was shot in December 2013. But he had also hunted without permits at least three times during the 2013-2014 license year, an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman found.

Instead of facing felony charges or dismissal upon his shooting, though, Fried got a ticket for about $800.

That’s because a Parks and Wildlife Department-led investigation found Fried transitioned “into a game warden law enforcement mode” just before he was shot. That let him file for workers’ compensation for the injury.

The state agency that issues workers’ compensation won’t say whether Fried received money. However, state rules say an insurance carrier isn’t liable for an injury suffered during off-duty recreational activity.

Two men from Illinois were charged in connection with Fried’s shooting, but their lawyers say it was an accident.

Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Josh Havens said the agency “stands by the accuracy of its internal investigation.” He said Fried didn’t receive preferential treatment.

Fried disclosed his violation of hunting rules while still hospitalized and recovering from the shooting. Last fall, he got a reprimand from his Parks and Wildlife Department superiors.

In a response from last July to state inquiries about why he violated hunting rules, Fried wrote, “I have no excuses for my actions.” Among his hunting violations: killing a white-tailed buck on public land without a permit, which is punishable as a state jail felony.

Instead, authorities filed misdemeanor charges against Fried that resulted in a fine of $769.88. Havens said that’s consistent with how Texas typically prosecutes illegal hunting.

Over the past five years, there have been 10 charges filed for hunting on public lands without the proper permit that also involved the illegal taking of a deer. And all were misdemeanors that required restitution to be paid for the illegal harvest of dear.

State officials also eventually directed that Fried be suspended without pay for 30 days and be made ineligible for promotion or pay increases for two years. He also was banned from hunting on any Texas wildlife management area as long as he remains a Texas Parks and Wildlife employee. But the workers’ compensation wasn’t addressed.

This past January, Fried also was ordered to attend the ethics class at the game warden training academy as part of continuing discipline for his hunting violations.

Police reports say the shooting occurred when the men arrested were in the barn at a private ranch and one of them fired a rifle at a sign attached to the boundary fence separating the private property from the state wildlife management area. Just then, Fried was making his way through the woods.

The shooter, initially charged with a felony, eventually received two years of deferred adjudication, but only for damage to the fence. Other charges were dismissed, attorneys said.

The shooter’s friend still faces a misdemeanor charge of not reporting the accident.

Protect Imperiled Elephants and Wolves

From HSUS.org…

On June 16, the House Appropriations Committee will vote on a harmful federal bill that would protect ivory traffickers and open up trophy hunting and commercial trapping of wolves. Some members of Congress slipped language into an annual spending bill that would block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from cracking down on the illegal ivory trade. Approximately one African elephant is poached every fifteen minutes, putting the species on a path toward extinction in our lifetime.

This language would also force the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, resuming the mass killing of wolves in the Great Lakes. The best available science shows that gray wolves, which only occupy a tiny portion of their historic range, need to maintain their federal protections.

TAKE ACTION
Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. Representative today You can say: “I’m a constituent and I would like you to protect wolves and elephants. Please oppose any Interior Appropriations riders that allow the illegal ivory trade in the U.S. to continue unchecked and that remove federal protections for endangered gray wolves.”

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

Dr. Goodall Applauds China’s Action to End the Domestic Sale of Ivory

Monday, June 1, 2015 – 11:53am
In a statement from today, Dr. Jane Goodall congratulates China on their announcement to end the domestic sale of ivory. Dr. Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute appluad the government’s destruction of 1,500 pounds of their ivory stocks, expressing their commitment to supporting the international action against the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

If we could stop the demand from the world’s two largest ivory markets – China and the United States – we could turn the tide on illegal poaching. Illegal poaching has taken 64 percent of Central Africa’s elephants in the last decade alone. The only way we will put an end to this senseless slaughter is to put an end to the market for ivory. I applaud China’s action and urge them to do more in hopes that other countries will follow their lead, both in banning ivory and in cracking down on its illegal trade.
Sincerely,
Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute &
UN Messenger of Peace
the Jane Goodall Institute-USA Headquarters
1595 Spring Hill Road | Suite 550 | Vienna, VA 22182

Phone 703.682.9283 | Fax 703.682.9312

Reward Offered in Astoria, Oregon Sea Lion and Harbor Seal Shootings

Photo @ Jim Robertson

Photo @ Jim Robertson

May 28, 2015

The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the deaths of approximately ten California sea lions and one harbor seal found floating in the waters near Astoria, Oregon, over the past two months. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

According to NOAA, multiple expended shell casings of various calibers were found during the months of April and May on the causeway at the East End Mooring Basin and at the water’s edge at the foot of 9th Street in Astoria. The deceased sea lions and harbor seal were found floating in the vicinity. The locations of the shell casings are known haul-out areas for marine mammals. The cause of death for the animals was determined to be gunshot wounds.

A recent rash of sea lion killings is coinciding with a die-off of sea lions in Southern California that has seen stranding response centers in California scrambling to rescue over 2,000 starving young animals.

Scott Beckstead, Oregon state director for The HSUS, said: “It is ironic that, on one hand we see humans reaching out to help suffering animals at the same time that others are breaking the law and killing them. Shooting sea lions and harbor seals is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one year of imprisonment. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per violation may also be assessed. The HSUS is grateful for NOAA’s work to investigate this crime and hope someone comes forward with information.”

Anyone with information concerning the shootings is asked to call NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement in Astoria, Oregon, at 503-325-5934 or the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.

Media Contact: Naseem Amini: 301-548-7793; namini@humanesociety.org

REWARD! Feds seek clues in sea lion shootings

By Edward StrattonThe Daily Astorian

May 29, 2015 9:54AM

Photo courtesy of Veronica Montoya
Sea Lion Defense Brigade volunteer Veronica Montoya reported finding 11 shell casings from a .44-caliber weapon May 18 at the Port of Astoria’s East End Mooring Basin, along with a sea lion with a serious eye wound.

1
 of
2

Photo courtesy of Veronica Montoya
Sea Lion Defense Brigade volunteer Veronica Montoya reported finding 11 shell casings from a .44-caliber weapon May 18 at the Port of Astoria’s East End Mooring Basin, along with a sea lion with a serious eye wound.

Photo courtesy of Veronica Montoya
The Sea Lion Defense Brigade reported finding 11 shell casings from a .44-caliber weapon May 18 at the Port of Astoria’s East End Mooring Basin. The group reported finding 19 shell casings in early April, as well.

<!–

–>

NOAA has confirmed the shooting of sea lions and a seal in and around Astoria, and the Humane Society is offering a $5,000 reward for information.

At least 10 California sea lions and one harbor seal have died from gunshot wounds and trauma in and around Astoria over the past two months, federal investigators have confirmed.

“It’s all been along the waterfront in Astoria,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent Karl Hellberg said, adding the death tally is a conservative estimate.

Hellberg reached out in the last few days to The Humane Society of the United States to offer a reward for information about the shootings. Thursday, The Humane Society offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the shootings.

Shell casings

On April 6, members of the Sea Lion Defense Brigade reported finding 19 bullet casings on the Port of Astoria’s East End Mooring Basin causeway. On May 18, they reported finding 11 more shell casings at the basin. Hellberg said more were found near Buoy Beer Co. on Ninth Street.

He said the local wildlife stranding networks have been doing necropsies on the animals.

“We’ve been watching this and trying to investigate this as we can,” he said, adding it is a difficult case because of the number of reports and the longstanding conflict between recreational and commercial fishermen and sea lions.

“I’m trying to develop additional leads right now,” Hellberg said. “I’ve exhausted many leads already.”

Since 1972, sea lions and harbor seals have been covered by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Shooting them is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one year in prison. Civil penalties of up to $11,000 can also be assessed for each violation of the act.

The Humane Society and Hellberg are directing anyone with information concerning the shootings to call NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement in Astoria at 503-325-5934 or the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.

Why sea lions are here

The NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center recently reported on the increase of sea lions in the Columbia River and starvation in California.

Male sea lions, NOAA said, seek out high-energy, oily fish such as herring and sardines. In recent years, they’ve come in increasing numbers to the mouth of the Columbia River to feed on strong runs of smelt, taking up residence on docks and jetties near Astoria.

Their numbers locally can range from a few hundred to more than 2,000, depending on the fish runs. As the smelt run dissipates and male sea lions migrate to rookeries in Southern California, there are fewer in the river.

A die-off of sardines, a traditional food source of sea lions in California, coincides with large recent die-offs and strandings of sea lions along the California coastline, NOAA reported.

Rhinos In Mozambique Likely Extinct, Expert Says; Elephants May Be Next

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/rhinos-mozambique-extinct_n_3200840.html

JOHANNESBURG — Mozambique’s rhinoceros population was wiped out more than a century ago by big game hunters. Reconstituted several years ago, the beasts again are on the brink of vanishing from the country by poachers seeking their horns for sale in Asia.

A leading expert told The Associated Press that the last rhino in the southern African nation has been killed. The warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – the only place where the horned behemoths lived in Mozambique – also says poachers have wiped out the rhinos. Mozambique’s conservation director believes a few may remain.

Elephants also could vanish in Mozambique soon, the warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Antonio Abacar, told AP. He said game rangers have been aiding poachers, and 30 of the park’s 100 rangers will appear in court soon.

“We caught some of them red-handed while directing poachers to a rhino area,” Abacar said.

A game ranger arrested for helping poachers in Mozambique’s northern Niassa Game Reserve said on Mozambican Television TVM last week that he was paid 2,500 meticais (about $80) to direct poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. Game rangers are paid between 2,000 and 3,000 meticais ($64 to $96) a month.

While guilty rangers will lose their jobs, the courts serve as little deterrent to the poachers: killing wildlife and trading in illegal rhino horn and elephant tusks are only misdemeanors in Mozambique.

“Their legal system is far from adequate and an individual found guilty is given a slap on the wrist and then they say `OK. Give me my horn back,'” said Michael H. Knight, chairman of the African Rhino Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission.

A meeting of the group in February reported there might, possibly, be one white rhino left in Mozambique and no black rhinos at all, Knight said.

According to Abacar: “We have already announced the extinction of the rhino population in Limpopo National Park.”

But Bartolomeu Soto, director of Mozambique’s transfrontier conservation unit, told the AP, “We believe we still have rhinos, though we don’t know how many.”

Mozambican news reports have said the last 15 rhinos in the park were slaughtered in the past month, but park officials said those reports were wrong. Soto said the misunderstanding had arisen over Abacar’s statement to journalists that he had not seen a rhino in the three months since he was put in charge of the large park.

The only official figure available for rhino deaths is that 17 of their carcasses were found in the park in 2010, Soto said. He said officials believe poaching must be taking place because rhino horn and elephant tusks carried by Asian smugglers are regularly seized at Mozambique’s ports, although at least some of the contraband could be from animals killed by Mozambican poachers in neighboring South Africa. This week a person was arrested at the airport of the capital, Maputo, in possession of nine rhino horns, Soto said.

The price of rhino horn has overtaken the price of gold as demand has burgeoned in Asian countries, mainly China and Vietnam, where consumers wrongly believe that the horn – made of the same substance as fingernails – has powerful healing properties. Chinese traditional medicine prescribes it for everything from typhoid, infant convulsions and fever to an antidote for poison and to relieve arthritis and cure possessions by the devil. Syndicates from Vietnam, China, South Korea and Thailand have been identified as being involved in the trafficking.

Knight said rhinos first vanished from Mozambique around the turn of the last century, in the age of the big white hunters, when the animals also nearly disappeared in South Africa, now home to 90 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 4,880 black rhinos.

In 2002, leaders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed to establish a transfrontier park straddling their borders and covering some 35,000 square kilometers (13,514 square miles) of the best established wildlife areas in southern Africa with South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. It is funded by several international wildlife organizations and the European Union.

Soto said some 5,000 animals of various species were moved from South Africa to Mozambique, including the first 12 rhinos to roam in Mozambique in a century.

In 2006, South Africa removed some 50 kilometers (30 miles) of fence between Kruger and Limpopo National Park. Soto said the entire 200 kilometers (125 miles) of fence was not removed because Mozambique still is working to resettle some 6,000 people living in the park.

A second phase was to include two other Mozambican parks, allowing the transfrontier park to extend over 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles) that would make it “the world’s largest animal kingdom,” according to the South African Peace Parks Foundation.

Those plans now are in danger, as is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Knight said South African officials are even discussing rebuilding their fence with Mozambique.

South African officials say their country has lost 273 rhinos to poachers so far this year. They say most have been killed by Mozambicans who cross into Kruger Park. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa last year.

The slaughter continues with the number of deaths increasing even though South Africa has declared war on rhino poachers and for two years has deployed soldiers and police in Kruger, a vast park which is the size of Israel.

Soto said Mozambique’s government has been working since 2009 on a comprehensive reform of environmental laws involving consultations with all stakeholders. He said he expects the draft legislation to be presented to parliament soon. It includes criminalizing the shooting of wildlife and would impose mandatory prison sentences on offenders.

But it will come too late to save the last of the rhinos in Mozambique.

___

Associated Press writer Emmanuel Camillo contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique.

1467436_10151678631130496_1400231111_n

Protect Gray Whales From A Hunt

The Makah Tribe in Washington State is pushing to resume hunting of gray whales.

The HSUS has a strong relationship with Native American tribes across the country, and we are working with them to stop the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves, to provide free veterinary services to pets on reservations and on other animal welfare issues. This proposed hunt is a rare disagreement between The HSUS and the Native American community.

The methods used to kill these whales are inherently inhumane and there is no way to ensure they will not take a whale from the endangered western Pacific stock of gray whales. During an illegal hunt in 2007, after repeatedly striking the whale, Tribal members watched it slowly die over many hours, until the whale’s body sank.

The Makah Tribe stopped hunting whales legally in the 1920’s — this is an old tradition that is best left in the past. Please tell the National Marine Fisheries Service to deny the Makah Tribe’s request to resume hunting gray whales in the U.S.
Wayne Pacelle
Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO

Also see: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2015/05/wa-noaa-sea-lion-shooting.html?credit=web_id93480558

Reward Offered in Washington Sea Lion Shooting Death

The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the death of a sea lion who was shot in the head on the Cowlitz River in Washington. The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Around April 25, concerned citizens alerted authorities to a stranded sea lion. The animal was unable to eat, drink or move off a sand bar on the Cowlitz River near Gerhart Gardens Park for several days. The sea lion suffered from a wounded eye and a probable broken jaw and was euthanized a few days later. The body was taken to Portland State University for a necropsy, which revealed the animal had been shot in the head. There have been other reports of dead sea lions floating down the river during the previous week.

Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS, said, “The immense suffering inflicted on this animal from such a pointless crime is unacceptable and a violation of federal law. We implore anyone with information to come forward and thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for seeking justice in this case.”

Harming a sea lion is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and is punishable by criminal penalties up to $100,000 and one year incarceration. Civil penalties up to $11,000 per count may also be assessed.

Anyone with information concerning the shootings is asked to call NOAA’s Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. Callers may remain anonymous.

Poaching:

  • Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are poached annually.
  • It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.
  • Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
  • The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.
Photo @  Jim Robertson

Photo @ Jim Robertson

The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information.

Couple caught trying to smuggle 400 rare turtles from Japan

May 25, 2015

By AYAKO TSUKIDATE/ Staff Writer

TOKONAME, Aichi Prefecture–Customs officers stopped a couple from boarding a flight out of Japan with hundreds of rare turtles, which are high valued in China for their medical properties and as pets.

In the incident in early May, officers at Chubu Airport here confiscated
400 or so Asian brown pond turtles and Japanese pond turtles.

Trans-border transactions of the creatures have been regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Convention, since 2013.

The turtles, packed in suitcases, were bundled in pairs with their bellies facing each other and stuck inside socks.

The couple’s nationality and their destination have not been disclosed.

Under the Washington Convention, government permission is required to export the turtle species. The Environmental Ministry effectively banned the export of Asian brown pond turtles from Japan in April.

Nagoya Customs are investigating the case as an attempted violation of the Customs Law’s ban on the unauthorized export of regulated products.

Customs officers at the airport also caught a passenger attempting to export 80 or so rare turtles, including Asian brown pond turtles, without permission in April.

The Asian brown pond turtle is a subspecies that inhabits rice paddies on Ishigaki, Iriomote and Yonaguni islands in the southernmost island chain of Okinawa Prefecture. The first ever survey conducted by the Environment Ministry in 2014 estimated the population of Asian brown pond turtles on the islands at 33,000.

Approval was granted for the export of 1,000 and 5,214 Asian brown pond turtles in fiscal 2013 and 2014, respectively. The ministry banned exports in April based on its concern that the species could become extinct within just eight years if the turtles continued to be captured at this pace.

Japanese pond turtles, which are indigenous to Japan, widely inhabit rivers and other waterfronts in the Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu islands.
A total of 3,850 turtles were exported from Japan in fiscal 2013, followed by 11,155 in fiscal 2014, mainly to China.

According to a turtle hunter based in Aichi Prefecture, who also exports his catches to China, Asian brown pond turtles are highly valued in China as an ingredient for “turtle jelly” that is widely eaten for its supposed health and cosmetic benefits.

The turtle’s shell and bones are also ground up and used as ingredients for traditional Chinese herbal medicines.

Japanese pond turtles are also cherished as pets, as their yellow and orange shell patterns are viewed as harbingers of good financial fortune under traditional feng shui philosophy.

The two species are traded at 2,000 yen to 8,000 yen ($16.45 to $66) in Japan but fetch twice to 10 times those prices in China.

While export of the turtles are regulated by the Washington Convention, capturing or possessing them is not legally prohibited in Japan.

This means that customs authorities may have to return the confiscated turtles to their owners, depending on the outcome of their investigation.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201505250031

1451324_650954518277931_1616731734_n

Tell Craigslist to end ivory sales on its sites!

1924891_10152211828561061_1647642544_n
Jobs, used bikes, apartments, ivory trinkets. They’re all available on Craigslist, but only one comes from the gruesome slaughter of elephants.
But here’s the thing: Craigslist’s own policy prohibits the sale of animal parts, including ivory on its sites. And yet, right now, the sale of ivory is rampant on Craigslist. Do they know that all ivory comes from dead elephants?
Craigslist’s policy is humane and simply the right thing to do. But they need to follow through and enforce their own rules.
We just conducted a joint investigation with our friends at the International Fund for Animal Welfare and what we found was shocking. A sample of Craigslist sites in cities both large and small yielded hundreds of postings for ivory – valued at well over one million dollars! And this was only examining a small percentage of what is available on the 420 sub-sites that make up Craigslist.
We’ve sent multiple letters to Craigslist leadership drawing attention to this issue. They have taken a first step by explicitly adding ivory to their list of prohibited items.
It’s a start, but we need them to take it further and enforce the rules.
So now we’re turning to you, our elephant-lovers (and many Craigslist users!), to help turn up the heat.
To be clear, what Craigslist is doing isn’t illegal. Many of the listings say that the ivory is antique, imported to the U.S. before the bans in the 1970s and 1980s and in compliance with state and federal law. But they offer no documentation proving this authenticity, and it’s incredibly difficult to tell the difference between ivory that’s decades old and ivory that came from an elephant poached 6 months ago. Even experts can be duped.
That’s exactly why eliminating all ivory sales is necessary. If we’re going to save African forest elephants from extinction, we need to drive down demand for ivory. That means enacting bans on the federal and state levels and then securing the resources to enforce those bans. Persuading corporations to enact and enforce their own bans is another critical piece of the puzzle.
Craigslist is one of the most popular online classified companies in the world. Taking a stand for elephants would be a huge step forward on this issue and make it easier for other companies to follow in their footsteps.
Together, we can win this! We’ve helped enact bans in New York and New Jersey. We convinced PBS’s Antiques Roadshow to stop appraising ivory on-air. Here’s to the next big win.
Sincerely,
John F Calvelli
John F. Calvelli
Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
Wildlife Conservation Society
Director, 96 Elephants

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]