Article

Bushmeat hunting, wildlife declines, and fish supply in West Africa

Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 11/2004; 306(5699):1180-3. DOI: 10.1126/science.1102425
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The multibillion-dollar trade in bushmeat is among the most immediate threats to the persistence of tropical vertebrates, but our understanding of its underlying drivers and effects on human welfare is limited by a lack of empirical data. We used 30 years of data from Ghana to link mammal declines to the bushmeat trade and to spatial and temporal changes in the availability of fish. We show that years of poor fish supply coincided with increased hunting in nature reserves and sharp declines in biomass of 41 wildlife species. Local market data provide evidence of a direct link between fish supply and subsequent bushmeat demand in villages and show bushmeat's role as a dietary staple in the region. Our results emphasize the urgent need to develop cheap protein alternatives to bushmeat and to improve fisheries management by foreign and domestic fleets to avert extinctions of tropical wildlife.

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    • "This is the result of a high fish demand, and the combination of a stable political environment and its commissioning of the only commercial fish feed mill in West Africa (Ainoo-Ansah, 2013; Frimpong et al., 2014). The country derives a majority of its dietary protein from fish (Brashares et al., 2004), with an estimated per capita fish consumption of 20–30 kg per annum in 2009 (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2012). This is higher than the global estimate of about 18 kg (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2012). "
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    • "Here, we estimated forest canopy removal rate within and outside of protected areas to assess effectiveness of protected areas. Protected areas may be especially vulnerable when the economy declines; as people's income plummets, they rely more on natural resources, such as bushmeat (Bragina et al., 2015; Brashares et al., 2004; Wilkie and Godoy, 2014). A striking example of a major economic downturn was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent transition to post-socialism, which resulted in increased poverty (Dudwick et al., 2003), abandonment of agriculture (Ioffe and Nefedova, 2004), and the decline of livestock populations (Kolesnikov, 2003). "
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    • "Elephant wounding and juvenile mortality in Kenya increased during periods of low livestock prices, suggesting that the local economy drives poaching (Wittemyer 2011). In Ghana, years of increased hunting and sharp declines in many wildlife species coincide with years of poor fish supply (Brashares et al. 2004). During the Rwandan civil war, poaching posed a major threat to the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei), sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii), and other species (Plumptre et al. 1997; Kanyamibwa 1998). "
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