The Bushmeat Trade - Threat of Primate & Wildlife Extinction
The unsustainable commercial and illegal bushmeat trade is
threatening extinction of apes, chimpanzees, gorillas, and other
primates and wildlife. Not only are the primates killed for
food and body parts, orphaned primates are being sold on the
exotic pet market, and they are also losing their habitat through
logging and commercial development.
billion dollars worth of wildlife will be butchered
this year including 8000 endangered apes.
The Bushmeat Trade could eliminate all viable
populations of African apes within the next 5-15
Source: Jane Goodall Institute
people have been infected with HIV type viruses
from consuming primates.
1 million metric tons of bushmeat are taken each
year from African forests alone.
Source: Wildlife Conservation Society
just confined to Africa, the bushmeat trade is
a global phenomenon.
demand for bushmeat will continue to rise with
the ever increasing populations.
human greed continues to expand, so does the plight of our precious
animals. The combined effect of urban encroachment on habitat
and the illegal bushmeat trade is having a devastating impact
on the survival of many species.
The Illegal bushmeat Trade, in particular, poses a significant
threat to the population of primates and other wildlife, who
have already suffered widespread local extinctions in Asia and
West Africa, with many more species under threat of extinction
within the next 15-20 years. See World's
Top 25 Endangered Primates which lists the primates considered
critically endangered around the world.
What Is Bushmeat?
Bushmeat is the term commonly used for meat of terrestrial
wild animals, hunted and killed for subsistence (food) or for
commercial purposes, of which illegal bushmeat forms a small
The Bushmeat Crisis - Main Issues
and illegal hunting of wildlife in Asia, West & Central
Africa, as well as rainforests has caused a crisis which threatens
not only the survival of animals facing
extinction, but also the environment
and disease transmission.
Threat of Extinction to Primates
& Other Wildlife...
Although primates have always been part of the staple diet
for forest dwelling peoples, as populations have increased
so has the demand for bushmeat, which has now created a situation
that has pushed many of the primate species to the edge of
Forest workers hunt to provide meat for their own needs
as well as commercial hunters, often illegally, provide
a supply for the demand in cities usually for large profits.
The bushmeat trade also affects the survival of many other
protected species including forest elephants, dwarf crocodiles
and crowned monkeys. Mammals that are currently under significant
- Bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee)
- Red colobus spp.
- Black colobus
- Geoffrey's pied colobus
- Preuss' Monkey
- Sun tailed guenon
- Owl faced monkey
- Sceater's monkey
- Diana monkey
- Red eared monkey
- White throated monkey
- Giant pangolin
- Forest elephant
- Water chevrotain
- Zebra duiker
- Ogilby's duiker
- Black Duiker
- Jentink's Duiker
- Yellow back Duiker
- White bellied Duiker
- Golden cat
Environmental Impact - Habitat Loss & Degradation...
The trade has been further facilitated by the ever-growing
number of European and Asian owned timber companies. Forestry
infrastructure including roads, vehicles and camps has increased
the accessibility for hunters that were previously inaccessible.
Bushmeat & Disease Transmission...
The bush-meat trade and risk of transmission of novel
Source – New Scientist Mon 9 Aug 2004 (edited)
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has jumped from primates
to people on at least 7 separate occasions in recent history,
not twice as is commonly thought. Now people in Cameroon are
showing up with symptoms of HIV infection, but, are testing
negative for both the virus and its primate equivalent, SIV,
the virus from which HIV is thought to have evolved. That
suggests that new strains of an HIV-like virus are circulating
in wild animals and infecting people who eat them, sparking
fears that such strains could fuel an already disastrous global
HIV pandemic. Outbreaks of Ebola is another concern from the
bush meat trade.
The warnings come from experts who gathered this week [1st
week August 2004] for the annual meeting of the Society for
Conservation Biology at Columbia University, New York. They
say that deforestation, and the trade in bush meat, are creating
ideal conditions for new diseases to emerge, as people have
ever closer contact with exotic animals that harbor novel
The conference reports follow the discovery, earlier in 2004,
that simian foamy virus, another disease that infects monkeys,
has been found in bush-meat hunters, and, 3 different species
of primates. As yet, it has not caused ill-effects. "Basically,
this is a virus looking for a disease," says William
Karesh, director of the World Conservation Society's field
Despite those concerns, we still do not have a clear idea
of how many wild animals are killed and eaten, David Wilkie,
co-chair of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF), told the
conference. He has carried out the 1st-ever survey of daily
bush-meat consumption by rural communities in Gabon. Over
2 years, he documented a flourishing, but previously unrecognised,
informal trade in bush meat, in which rural communities hunted,
and ate, small game, having already caught most available
primates. He thinks official studies of bush meat sold in
markets account for only 40 percent of the total bush meat
eaten in the country. "In the Congo basin alone, between
one and 5 million metric tons of bush meat was consumed in
2003," says Heather Eves, head of the BCTF, a non-governmental
organization that monitors the trade. And, the dangers of
eating such animals are real. The BCTF points out that SIV
infection has now been reported in 26 different species of
African non-human primates, many of which are
hunted and sold as food.
How You Can Help
Below are links to organisations that provide further information
on the Bushmeat Trade and ways you can support.
- The Bushmeat
Crisis Taskforce is a consortium of conservation organizations
and scientists dedicated to the conservation of wildlife populations
threatened by commercial hunting of wildlife for sale as meat.
They offer up to date information, news and ways you can assist.
Health Fact Sheet
An information sheet outlining the causes, the impact and
the solutions of the potential health issues related to the
- The Bushmeat
Project supports partnerships to help the people of equatorial
Africa protect the region’s vital ecosystems and vibrant
societies. It provides economic and social incentive and enables
the expansion of capacity in the conservation arena. They
offer up to date information, news and ways you can assist.
A To waste, to destroy our natural
to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase
will result in undermining in the days of our children the very
which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.
~Theodore Roosevelt - 7th Annual Message, 3 December 1907~
Save The Primates is dedicated to
supporting quality of life for chimps, apes, gorillas and other
We are currently supporting The
Chimfunshi Wildlife Sanctuary Project
Help Us help the chimps...
photos except the top one are courtesty of Karl