IUCN resolution urges immediate action: greater law enforcement, increased funding, industry cooperation

Amman, Jordan, 11.10. 2000 (IUCN) - As the increasing hunting of freshwater turtles, antelopes, monkeys and many other wild animals pushes several species towards extinction, congress delegates from more than 100 countries have called for urgent action to tackle the unsustainable commercial trade in bushmeat.

Commercial trade in bushmeat (meat from wild animals killed for human consumption, also known as wild meat) is having a devastating effect on wildlife populations in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America. A vast range of species are affected, from birds and small mammals such as the duiker and flying fox, to the larger animals such as deer, hippo, buffalo and forest elephant. Bushmeat hunting is now one of the world's most pressing conservation problems.

Use of and trade in bushmeat is a complex issue involving cultural, economic and political factors. For centuries, bushmeat has been a critical source of protein for local communities, particularly poor people in rural areas. Bushmeat is also served as a delicacy in restaurants around the world, which may further fuel the trade. To serve this increased demand, hunters are using more effective hunting techniques such as "spot-lighting", long-line wire snaring, and powerful weapons.

In recent decades, burgeoning human populations, declining tropical forests and increasing competition for resources have put even greater pressure on wild animals. Logging and mining have greatly increased forest access for commercial hunters and traders.

"Research by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) shows that in Asia, 71 percent of hunted species are harvested unsustainably, followed by 68 percent in Africa and 40 percent in Latin America. In Africa, even subsistence hunting reduces duiker populations by about 43 percent. On average, tropical animal populations are reduced by 80 percent under moderate hunting, and 90 percent under heavy hunting," says Dr Elizabeth Bennett, senior conservation zoologist for WCS."

Although habitat loss is often cited as the primary cause of wildlife extinction, commercial hunting for wild animal meat has become the most immediate threat to the future of wildlife in the Congo Basin. Bushmeat hunting has already resulted in widespread local extinctions throughout West Africa," she adds.

The bushmeat issue was the focus of a resolution, adopted yesterday by delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Amman. The resolution urges all affected countries to strengthen and enforce trade laws to control the commercial trade in wild meat. It asks logging, other extractive industries and large-scale infrastructure projects to control the wild meat hunting associated with their operations. The resolution also calls for greater funding from donor organisations to support necessary programmes to control the unsustainable commercial trade in wild meat, and to address its root causes.

"Addressing the legitimate concerns of food and income security in addition to the urgent conservation needs of the species will require innovative solutions," says Mr David Brackett, chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission.

"There is an urgent need to do something about the Endangered and Critically Endangered species because there is not much time left for them," says Mr Mohamed Bakarr, project director with the Centre for Applied Biodiversity Science of Conservation International. "This resolution is a great start in getting the countries involved together on the frontlines of the battle against the bushmeat crisis."

For more information contact: Anna Knee - Communications Officer IUCN Species Survival Commission - Tel: +41 22 9990153. Email: alk@iucn.org

Work area: 
Wildlife trade
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