Bushmeat supply and consumption in a tropical logging concession in northern Congo.
Unsustainable hunting of wildlife for food empties tropical forests of many species critical to forest maintenance and livelihoods of forest people. Extractive industries, including logging, can accelerate exploitation of wildlife by opening forests to hunters and creating markets for bushmeat. We monitored human demographics, bushmeat supply in markets, and household bushmeat consumption in five logging towns in the northern Republic of Congo. Over 6 years we recorded 29,570 animals in town markets and collected 48,920 household meal records. Development of industrial logging operations led to a 69% increase in the population of logging towns and a 64% increase in bushmeat supply. The immigration of workers, jobseekers, and their families altered hunting patterns and was associated with increased use of wire snares and increased diversity in the species hunted and consumed. Immigrants hunted 72% of all bushmeat, which suggests the short-term benefits of hunting accrue disproportionately to "outsiders" to the detriment of indigenous peoples who have prior, legitimate claims to wildlife resources. Our results suggest that the greatest threat of logging to biodiversity may be the permanent urbanization of frontier forests. Although enforcement of hunting laws and promotion of alternative sources of protein may help curb the pressure on wildlife, the best strategy for biodiversity conservation may be to keep saw mills and the towns that develop around them out of forests.
Poulsen, JR; Clark, CJ; Mavah, G; Elkan, PW
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