Friday, June 10, 2011

Rats, bees to protect African wildlife

Jonny Hogg in Reuters: Beekeeping and breeding animals such as cane rats for food are needed to help tackle the unsustainable trade in bush meat in central Africa, conservation experts said on Friday. Local populations rely on birds, reptiles and mammals including apes in the vast Congo Basin for food, but overhunting for so-called bush meat is leading to 'empty forest syndrome', according to a statement issued by a panel of environmental experts following a meeting on the issue in Nairobi.

"Tackling the impact of unsustainable and illegal trade in bush meat is critical for protecting the livelihoods of rural people and conserving wildlife in biodiversity-rich areas," said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES).

Legitimate subsistence hunting is being replaced by commercial hunting and trade in endangered species including elephants and primates, said Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The statement said that replacing bush meat with locally produced beef would require up to 80 percent of the Democratic Republic of Congo to become pasture. "Therefore, there is no alternative to making the use of wildlife for food more sustainable….”

A beehive hanging from the eave of an office building, shot by Biswarup Ganguly, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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