Bushmeat in its simplest definition means: The meat of animals taken from the forest. Any forest, any animal, this includes threatened and endangered species. Elephants, chimpanzees, and gorillas are just a few species that are being hunted for human consumption. It is estimated that over 1 million metric tons of forest animals are killed in a year. That is equal to nearly 4 million cattle. Most prominent in central African countries, the bushmeat crisis is also occurring in Asia, India and South America.
The backbone of the bushmeat crisis is the timber industry. They are supplying local people with transportation, weapons, ammunition and wire for snares. It is estimated that 80% of the animals caught in snares rot there; never leaving the forest, never making it to market. Drought and currency devolution has made farming unprofitable, so it is poor who has turn to commercial hunting. The meat surplus is sold in markets to the wealthier urban people at 4 times the cost of beef and pork. But the meat of these endangered animals have reach far beyond their native borders. Across Europe, bushmeat is beginning to appear on menus.
If the demand for bushmeat continues to grow, some experts believe that in less than 15 years, there may not be any primates left in the wild. This could have a major impact on our health, as wildlife carry diseases that can jump to humans.
This is particularly true when it comes to our closets living relative, the chimpanzee. Sharing about 99% of the same DNA as humans, chimps are carriers of such diseases as Malaria, Ebola and SIV virus, which is believed to be the grandfather of HIV-1. Some scientists believe that by losing the forest, and the animals, we may be loosing one of our best chances for finding a cure for AIDS and opening the possibility of new plagues.
The bottom line is that the bushmeat crisis is being driving by economics. The key will be to find a balance for sustainable hunting, curbing the commercial trade in this exotic meat, while meeting basic human needs without future risk to the culture and wildlife. People need to be educated on the health risk and the important roles diversified groups of animals have in maintaining a healthy balanced forest.
The purpose of DARKSIDE OF DEBONAIR – The Bushmeat Trade, is to educate people about the aspects and effects of the bushmeat industry in an entertaining way, and to create mainstream controversy by exposing Africa’s dirty secret.