John F. Calvelli
Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
Wildlife Conservation Society
Director, 96 Elephants
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. Commercial harvesting and the trade of wildlife is considered a threat to biodiversity.
Bushmeat also provides a route for a number of serious tropical diseases to spread to humans from their animal hosts. Bushmeat is used for sustenance in remote areas, while in major towns and cities in bushmeat eating societies it is treated as a delicacy.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In the case of Liberia in West Africa, bushmeat is widely eaten and is considered a delicacy. A 2004 public opinion survey found that bushmeat ranked second behind fish amongst residents of the capital Monrovia as a preferred source of protein. 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. The survey was conducted during the last civil war, and bushmeat consumption is now believed to be far higher.
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. Bushmeat hunters in Central Africa infected with the human T-lymphotropic virus were closely exposed to wild primates.
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. There are several distinct strains of HIV, indicating that this cross-species transfer has occurred several times. 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.
Animals used as bushmeat may also carry other diseases such as smallpox, chicken pox, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rabies, yellow fever and yaws. African squirrels (Heliosciurus, Funisciurus) have been implicated as reservoirs of the monkeypox virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bubonic plague bacteria can transfer to humans when handling or eating prairie dogs.
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. Improper preparation of any infected animal may be fatal.
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.
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.
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, Hypsignathus monstrosus and Epomops franqueti. 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.
This was exemplified when a major Nigerian newspaper implied that eating dog meat was a healthy alternative to bush meat. However, as human populations grow, the interactions between humans and wildlife will increase, making events like the 2014 outbreak more likely.
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.
Species hunted for food in Liberia include elephants, pygmy hippopotamus, chimpanzees, leopards, duikers, and other monkeys. Forest rangers in Liberia say that bushmeat poachers will kill any forest animal they encounter.
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. 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. 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.
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:
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. 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. Unsustainable hunting practices along with habitat loss makes the extinction of these endangered primates more likely.
WE ARE DEVASTATED
WAR AMBASSADOR DISAPPEARS WHILE FLEEING ZIMBABWE
Rob Grinham, WAR ambassador and wildlife activist was taken from Lusaka airport last night in what seems to be a coordinated effort by both Zambian and Zimbabwean authorities.…
He was traveling by bus to Lusaka after his house in Harare was invaded and searched by Zim police.
Rob was doing research into the illegal ivory trade and poaching activities and sharing information about WAR projects.
We fear for his life.
Please share and post this all over social media. If you have seen him anywhere since last night please get in touch with us.
Four men were arrested and more than 50 guns seized in an ongoing investigation of illegal hunting, police said Wednesday.
More than 250 pounds of venison, seven crossbows and many deer racks and mounts also were seized in the investigation, which was focused in New Castle County, McDerby said.
Those arrested were identified as Michael E. Dewey, 53, and Christopher A. Griffin, 24, both of Wilmington, Jeffrey D. Callahan, 53, of Newark, and Gary L. Grose, 50, of Townsend.
All were charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, an offense McDerby said could carry substantial prison time.
Because the investigation is continuing, McDerby said he could not release details of the case, including where and when the arrests were made.
Police did not disclose what past offenses led to all four being prohibited from possessing guns and ammunition.
But McDerby said that state law bans those with prior felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions associated with violent crimes, drug convictions, mental conditions as defined under the law or court-issued protection from abuse orders from having deadly weapons and ammunition.
“This prohibition means they cannot be in possession of hunting weapons, including bows or crossbows, shotguns, muzzleloaders or any deadly weapon or ammunition used for hunting,” he said.
Each of those arrested faces a variety of other charges.
Dewey also was charged with six counts of possessing illegally taken antlerless deer, six counts of possessing illegally taken antlered deer and one count of possessing unlawfully taken game. He was released on $10,500 unsecured bail.
Eight firearms and ammunition, one crossbow and about 50 pounds of venison were seized as evidence against Dewey, along with a variety of antlered deer mounts and racks, and one mounted duck, McDerby said.
Griffin was charged with six counts of possessing illegally taken antlerless deer, four counts of possessing illegally taken antlered deer, three counts of failure to tag antlered deer, two counts of possessing unlawfully taken game birds, two counts of failure to tag antlerless deer, two counts of posessing unlawfully taken game birds and unlawful use of a quality buck tag. He was released on $4,500 unsecured bail.
Thirty-six firearms and ammunition were seized as evidence against Griffin, McDerby said. Also seized were four crossbows and about 100 pounds of venison and duck meat, along with a variety of antlered deer mounts and racks, he said.
Callahan also was charged with eight counts of possessing illegally taken antlerless deer, four counts of possessing illegally taken antlered deer, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession. He was released on $3,750 unsecured bail.
Four firearms and ammunition, a crossbow, about 100 pounds of venison, a variety of antlered deer mounts and racks, about 11.1 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were seized as evidence against Callahan, McDerby said.
Grose was charged with two counts of possessing illegally taken antlerless deer, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession. He was released on $5,500 unsecured bail.
Two firearms and ammunition, a crossbow and compound bow, about 15 pounds of venison, a variety of antlered deer mounts and racks, about 7.5 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were seized as evidence against Grose, McDerby said.
Although McDerby declined to give details about the tips that started the investigation, he said, “we’re always happy to get tips like that.”
He said illegal hunting may be reported to Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police at (302) 739-4580 or to Operation Game Theft at (800) 292-3030
A professional game hunter has been trampled to death by an elephant he was attempting to kill.
Ian Gibson was leading a hunt in Chewore North in the lower Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe, when the bull elephant “began a full charge. ”
In an online note on the website of his employers Safari Classics, the company explained Gibson had been tracking the elephant for five hours with a client when they stopped for a rest.
Ian Gibson was killed by a charging African bull elephant
It adds: “Feeling he was quite close to the elephant, Ian and his tracker Robert continued to follow the tracks in hopes of getting a look at the ivory as the client stayed with the game scout.”
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Gibson’s tracker indicated the elephant was in “musth” – a condition where the animal’s urge to mate goes into overdrive and it becomes overly aggressive, but Gibson continued.
The note continues: “They eventually caught up with the bull, spotting him at about 50-100 metres. The bull instantly turned and began a full charge.
The animal was in a state of ‘musth’ making it aggressive (file picture)
“Ian and Robert began shouting in order to stop the charge. At very close range, Ian was able to get off one shot before the bull killed him. The scene was very graphic.”
It is not known if the animal was injured or killed in the incident.
Gibson is paid tribute to as “a fine man and one of the most experienced professional hunters on the African continent.”
The same company lost a staff member in 2012 when Owain Lewis was killed by a buffalo, NewZimbabwe reports.
LONDON (CNN) — Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.
The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.
The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.
“In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented,” Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement.
“These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction,” Stuart added.
The IUCN points to conservation efforts which have paid off for the southern white rhino subspecies which have seen populations rise from less than 100 at the end of the 19th century to an estimated wild population of 20,000 today.
Another success can be seen with the Przewalski’s Horse which was listed as “extinct in the wild” in 1996 but now, thanks to a captive breeding program, has an estimated population of 300.
The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reviews more than 60,000 species, concluding that 25% of mammals on the list are at risk of extinction.
Many plants are also under threat, say the IUCN.
Populations of Chinese fir, a conifer which was once widespread throughout China and Vietnam, is being threatened by the expansion of intensive agriculture according to the IUCN.
A type of yew tree (taxus contorta) found in Asia which is used to produce Taxol (a chemotherapy drug) has been reclassified from “vulnerable” to “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as has the Coco de Mer — a palm tree found in the Seychelles islands — which is at risk from fires and illegal harvesting of its kernels.
Recent studies of 79 tropical plants in the Indian Ocean archipelago revealed that more than three quarters of them were at risk of extinction.
In the oceans, the IUCN reports that five out of eight tuna species are now “threatened” or “near threatened,” while 26 recently-discovered amphibians have been added to the Red List including the “blessed poison frog” (classified as vulnerable) while the “summers’ poison frog” is endangered.
“This update offers both good and bad news on the status of many species around the world,” Jane Smart, director of IUCN’s global species program said in a statement.
“We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”
This blog is living proof that, as the media tells us, “we’re bored with climate change” (The BBC suggests today that we’ve moved on from caring about climate change because we’re tired of it). It’s not that there’s nothing new to learn about the issue of whether we, and the Earth, will survive to see another century.
An overview, Melting Accelerates in Antarctica: So Far, 2015 Is Hottest Year Yet, in Truthout.org by Dahr Jamail posted just last night spells out what’s new, and will fill you in on what you may have missed. If you haven’t read the latest reports on anthropogenic climate disorder (or even if you have), I highly recommend it: http://truth-out.org/news/item/30063-melting-accelerates-in-antarctica-so-far-2015-is-hottest-year-yet It can begin to give you an appreciation of the magnitude of this dire situation.
Coincidentally, on April 7th I wrote a semi-satirical post about the lack of interest in climate change and how business as usual will bring it on, entitled, “C’mon Nature, Show Us a Sign!” https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/cmon-nature-show-us-a-sign/ As if to prove my point, so far it’s been read by only 31 people. That could almost make one wonder if overpopulation itself is just a hoax. How can there be 7 and a quarter billion people on the planet when only 31 read that post?
Meanwhile the post, “Chorus of Outrage as Obama Administration Approves Arctic Drilling for Shell Oil” only received 23 views.
Now, compare those figures to the 53,436 people so far (6,652 on the first day, followed by 15,094 the next) who have read the article I posted on April 1 about a woman who hunts poachers in Africa.
(Note to anyone writing to spread the word about climate change: You might want to include a photo of a lady cradling a machine gun in front of an American flag, they seem to attract an awful lot of interest.)
Kinessa Johnson is a US Army veteran who served for 4 years in Afghanistan, this week she arrived in Africa to take on a different kind of enemy. Her new mission is, as she puts it, “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching, kill some bad guys, and do some good.” She is now enlisted with Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) as an anti-poaching advisor. VETPAW is a not-for-profit organization that employs US Veterans to help protect African wildlife from being illegally hunted and captured.
Ms. Johnson and her team of fellow Vets arrived in Tanzania on March 26th and began their work. She has already noticed a decrease in poaching activity in her team’s immediate area because their presence is known. Which is easy to understand, who would want to fight it out with a battle proven warrior like Johnson? Her team’s primary focus will be training park rangers and patrolling with them to provide support. African park rangers are in serious need of assistance, as she mentions, “they lost about 187 guys last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants.” The training they will provide includes marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence.
Johnson joined VETPAW because she loves animals and protecting endangered species is close to her heart. Africa has the largest populations of rhinos and elephants in the world, making it the frontline for defending these endangered species that are top targets for poachers. Additionally, revenue from the sale of products from poached animals is often used to fund war and terrorism in Africa. She says that after the obvious first priority of enforcing existing poaching laws, educating the locals on protecting their country’s natural resources is most important overall.
Ms. Johnson has taken to social media to help raise money and awareness for the cause and she now has over 44,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram. Checkout her profiles where she has some amazing photos of exotic African animals and updates on what her team is doing. While we all don’t have the skills to take up arms to combat poaching, you can support Johnson and her team by donating to VETPAW and sharing their mission. Soon you’ll be able to watch Johnson and her team on a new show on the Discovery Channel.
It’s really awesome to see men and women like Johnson who have served their country now serving the world by protecting some of its most precious resources. When asked if her or her team had killed any poachers yet in a Q & A on Reddit she stated, “We don’t operate with the intent to kill anyone.” The African poachers would be well advised no to test this All-American badass on that though.
Watch the video below where Johnson announced her new mission! (She starts discussing at mark 1:23)
I’m sure you remember Washington State wolf-poacher, Bill White of Twisp. I knew him all too well, having spent a third of my life outside the same small town. Like most serial killers, he’d seem like a nice guy if you saw him chatting it up with passers-by from his booth at the farmer’s market, selling his popular “all natural” “grass-fed” beef to unsuspecting buyers of all political stripes.
Little did they know they were supporting a soon-to-be infamous serial-poacher who defied “game” laws galore while hound-hunting bears and cougars and ultimately baiting the state’s first known wolf pack, the “Lookouts,” luring them to their deaths at his 100 acre ranch on the side of Lookout Mountain.
Not only did he and his son kill most of the Lookouts before the pack was even officially recognized, the poaching ring also flouted international trade laws by trying to send a bloody wolf hide over the border into Canada. Ironically, that crime was to be their undoing.
As it turns out, if they had waited for the government to declare them legal, those exact same crimes would have been perfectly acceptable—with the applicable authorizations. Hunters in Montana can now get permits to do just what the Whites tried to do illegally, murder wolves and ship their hides to Canada.
The message being sent here is: murder isn’t a crime as long as you get permission. Kill a wolf in cold blood, skin it and send its hide to a dealer across the border? No problem, just get a permit. (Washingtonians or Oregonians, be sure to say it was chasing your cows, or looking crossways at dog or baby first.) There’s a permit for everything…you just have to learn to jump through the right hoops.
Another case of permits making killing all better: the shooting of sea lions—an all too common practice that has driven the Steller (or Northern) sea lion to the brink of extinction. That endangered species’ population has been reduced by 80% from what they were before the thrill-killing heyday. The Marine Mammal Protection Act, passed in the early 1970s, may have slowed the killing, but exploiters could always get permits to do away with the competition. For the longest time all a commercial fisherman would have to do was claim sea lions ate “their fish” and they were granted a permit to fire at will.
Apparently, snuffing out a beautiful, sentient, social being is not considered a crime, but failure to get the right permits is another thing altogether. Want to dredge the bottom of the ocean for every last little bit of sea life, entangling and starving out sea lions, seals, whales and dolphins in the process? Kill off the entire planet in the name of resource extraction? No problem—just be sure you have a permit first.
Remember, even budding serial killers must obtain the proper permit.
More poachers shot dead;
Two poachers were killed in an encounter with forest guards in the Bagori Range area of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park on Thursday.
A…ccording to officials, five to six poachers had entered the park in order to carry out rhino poaching. Except the two who were killed, all others escaped during the encounter. On Wednesday, a female Rhino was killed by poachers at the park located in Assam’s Sonitpur district. An Assam Home Guard, part of the force that guards rhinos at National Parks, was also killed by the poachers.
Poachers have killed and de-horned nearly 200 rhinos in Assam over the past 13 years; in 2014, 20 rhinos were killed. A few years ago, the Assam government set up a special task force to guard rhinos. Last year, there was a proposal to use drones for surveillance at the Kaziranga National Park, but nothing has been done yet in this regard.
In 2014 , the Assam forest department killed 22 poachers in the state. Assam is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinos, an endangered species.
Picture – One of two Rhino poachers this year captured by forest guards.