Solutions for African Bushmeat Crisis
While African bushmeat was once considered a subsistence activity, logging and the expansion of cities and roads to previously impenetrable forests has made access to animals much easier, suggests Mark Jones of Care For the Wild International, in the BBC. Additionally, growing demand and rising prices has created a worldwide market for such products that today makes bushmeat a multi-billion dollar industry fueled by high demand and lack of enforcement.
Unfortunately, the impact of the illegal trade of bushmeat has serious repercussions for African wildlife. In Africa the hunting of the animals has led to increasing biodiversity loss and species collapses. Many of the animals being killed are already or are becoming endangered. Since every animal has a function in the ecosystem such as predator or prey, the loss of one species has a widespread impact on other species and often the entire ecosystem. Even species in protected areas and under legal protection fall victim to the bushmeat trade. With weak law enforcement and lack of resources, officials are finding it difficult to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated killing and trade of bushmeat.
The international community has to join together to enforce laws regarding the illegal trade of bushmeat. On the international level, countries should step up enforcement in airports and borders to help detect the import (and export) of bushmeat. Further, they should impose fines and even jail time to offenders since many of these species are rare and endangered.
The poverty issue in Africa also needs to be addressed. Since many bushmeat traders are poverty stricken and in need of income, countries need to provide a living for their citizens so they do not engage in this illegal trade. With several enforcement mechanisms and financial aid, the illegal trade of bushmeat can be stopped.
We would add one more solution to those that Mark Jones suggested. Considering the potential loss of magnificent species, conservationists should launch expeditions into the forests to capture and relocate or move animals out of the way of the bushmeat trade. It’s likely the quickest and most sure solution, and would preserve entire animal species for generations into the future.