THREAT TO CONSERVATION

Tighten laws on bushmeat trade to save wildlife species

An estimated 300,000 tonnes of bushmeat is consumed in Kenya every year

In Summary

• Illegal traders of bushmeat were recently nabbed in Nairobi's Burma market, their consumers may not have known what it was. 

• Human population growth plays a major role in the increase in demand for bushmeat. 

Suspects arrested by KWS officers in Naivasha with game meat
CONSERVATION EFFORTS: Suspects arrested by KWS officers in Naivasha with game meat
Image: George Murage

Scientific research estimates that between 30 per cent and 85 per cent of daily protein intake of Africans come from bushmeat. It is also estimated that two million metric tonnes of illegal bushmeat are harvested each year in Africa with an estimated 300,000 tonnes consumed in Kenya. 

In remote, impoverished, rural areas, bushmeat is often an essential source of animal protein that may contribute to food security, particularly where livestock and fish are inaccessible or unaffordable.

Due to population growth and the commercialisation of the trade, the hunting pressure on wild animal populations is increasing rapidly. The bushmeat trade has long been recognised as a severe threat to wildlife populations in Africa.

The most common method used by illegal hunters is the use of snares; they typically comprise of a noose attached to woody vegetation and placed where animals are likely to pass such as along wildlife trails, close to water sources, in gaps in fences of thorn bush or along migratory routes. Animals are caught when they put their head or leg into the snare and pull it tight as they keep moving. Snares are low cost, difficult for enforcement agencies to detect and if left unchecked, can cause rapid declines in the wildlife population.

Recently, suspects were arrested by the officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service in possession of bushmeat at Burma market. Unfortunately, the people consuming bushmeat may not be aware. Concerns also exist that animal diseases(zoonotic) can be transmitted to humans.

Increase of the human population is rapidly increasing demand for bushmeat in urban areas. There is a need to get rid of the trade in Kenya before endangered species are wiped out completely.

 

African Network for Animal Welfare