IUCN leads international cooperation to combat the growing "bushmeat" problem

27 July 2001 | News story

Gland, Switzerland (IUCN) 27.07.01. IUCN is taking the lead on international cooperation to combat the unsustainable use of wild meat that is having a devastating effect on wildlife populations and threatening food security for many local communities.

The unsustainable use of wild meat (meat from wild animals killed for human consumption, commonly known as bushmeat) is one of the world's most pressing conservation problems. Wild meat is a source of protein for people throughout many parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America and eastern Europe. Local communities see it as one of the most beneficial wildlife resources available for food and trade to support their livelihoods.

Growing poverty means that traditional taboos restricting the consumption of certain species are increasingly being ignored. With growing human populations, demand for wild meat is high, and rising prices are stimulating trade.

Although unsustainable use of wild meat is a global issue, trade is particularly significant within Africa. Many people believe that the problem is largely restricted to tropical forests and charismatic species such as gorillas and chimpanzees. Yet 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 elephant.

The bushmeat issue has attracted much attention and activity, including the formation of a Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF) - a consortium of more than 25 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as a working group under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Several individual NGOs are also involved in this issue but their activities are not formally linked to the policy-making or development communities.

To establish a framework to address this, IUCN through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) is coordinating a workshop entitled "Links between Biodiversity Conservation, Livelihoods and Food Security: The Sustainable Use of Wild Meat" in Cameroon, 17-21 September 2001. The workshop will forge working links between the species conservation, food security/community development, and private sector stakeholders.

With critical input and expertise from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on food security and livelihoods, the workshop will bring together the major players from the development sector such as the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, and USAID, alongside the key humanitarian relief services. Results of the workshop will be used to form a plan of action outlining individual and shared responsibilities.

"The workshop aims to get the conservation, development, and policy-making communities working together to tackle the food security and alternative livelihood issues, as well as species conservation and sustainable use. We will be looking at the effectiveness of existing measures, as well as exploring future options," said Head of IUCN's Species Programme, Dr Sue Mainka.

With its international networks, IUCN is ideally place to tackle the bushmeat problem on a global level. The workshop will involve SSC Specialist Groups, the SSC Wildlife Trade Programme, IUCN's wildlife trade monitoring programme TRAFFIC, the Socio-economics Unit, Biodiversity Policy Coordination Division, the Environmental Law Centre, and the Forest and Wetlands programmes, as well as Regional and Country offices.

For more information contact:
Dr Sue Mainka - Head of IUCN's Species Programme Officer; Tel: +41 (0)22 999 0152; Email: sam@iucn.org
Dr Alison Rosser - SSC Wildlife Trade Programme Officer; Tel: +44 (0)1223 277966; Email: alison.rosser@ssc-uk.org
Anna Knee - SSC Communications Officer; Tel +41 (0)22 9990153; Email: alk@iucn.org


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.