The lush forested areas of central and western Africa are commonly referred to as "the bush." The diverse forms of wildlife found in the bush, including great apes, elephants, and forest antelope, have long served as a primary food source for the inhabitants of the region. This bushmeat is an important food and trade item for poor families in rural areas, while many residents of urban areas prize bushmeat as a delicacy.
In recent years however, the bushmeat trade has become a major commercial industry, as both demand and availability have greatly increased. Unregulated hunting has wiped out large populations of animals, while uncontrolled logging and mining operations have provided access to the heart of the forest and its inhabitants. Not only does this unchecked consumption threaten animal populations, but it also poses a serious public health risk as many popular bushmeat species, especially primates, can harbor potentially lethal diseases, such as AIDS and the Ebola virus, that jump from animal to man.
In 1999, a group of scientists and conservation organizations recognized that the unsustainable illegal commercial bushmeat trade was growing to crisis proportions, and founded the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force. The goal of the BCTF is to eliminate the illegal bushmeat trade through a global network of information and education. The Oakland Zoo's support of the BCTF funds programs that raise public awareness of bushmeat issues here, in Africa, and around the world. BCTF works with legislators and commercial interests to help alleviate poverty and to find alternative protein sources to solve the bushmeat problem.
For more information visit www.bushmeat.org.
Chimpanzees often get caught in poachers'
snares, leading to maiming or death.