On any given day in the Takana indigenous lands of Peru, over 420 Caiman Lizards that look like crocodiles get killed for their meat and skin by the local communities.
Not only the lizards but great apes, gorillas, chimpanzees and many more wild animals are hunted mostly in Central Africa as bush meat is the only cheap source of protein and food security for the poor communities.
“In Central Africa it is a tradition and matter of honour to offer the guests with forest meat. In some other countries it is the only source of protein that the poor families can afford,” said Roland Melisch, Senior Director, Africa and Europe, TRAFFIC, a wild life trade monitoring network at a side event at the ongoing COP-11 convention here on Tuesday.
Founded in 1976, TRAFFIC is promoting conditions where wild life trade is managed sustainably. Chouaibou Nchoutpouen, Programme Officer, COMIFAC (Central Africa Forest Commission) said, ten African countries Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guiana, Central African Republic, Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome, and Principe have decided to find ways to save endangered wild species ending up as bush meat.
“The governments recognise that the power of saving the local species should be handed over to the communities that depend on it and they will be able to save as their ancestors have been doing for centuries,” Chouaibou said.
Tahir, who has been working on conservation of bush animals in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Vietnam said that CBD recognises the efforts of certain NGOs like the one in Ghana that has worked with local communities. “In Ghana a group called CREMAS tried giving landrights to local youth and they started producing more food from land, thereby lessening burden on wild life.”
Similar efforts in Peru and Bolivia reduced the frequency of Caiman Lizard killings to once in 17 days. Dr Noelle Kumpel from Zoological Society of London said that certain studies undertaken by ZSL identified that political and other constraints compel local communities more on wild meat.
“For example in Guiana we found an inverse relation between oil boom and consumption of wild meat ,” she added.
Few delegates at COP-11 from strife ridden African countries, particularly Congo, expressed similar sentiments as fear of oppression forces people to stay deep in forest and depend on wild animals like monkeys as they are free and full of protein. It was during COP 8 that the nations recognised the unsustainable hunting of bush meat as the statistics showed that every year over 579 million mammals were killed in central Africa.