Insatiable appetite for Gamemeat in Tanzania pushing wildlife to extinction—Conservationists

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Tanzanian conservationists are alarmed that a great number of fauna species in the country is shrinking due to the hard hand of hunters who seek to profit from bushmeat.

With only Elephant and Rhino taking the largest share of media reports and conservation campaigns, authorities now warn that there is a looming under-reported crisis involving the poaching of other animals such as impalas, wildebeest and zebras to satisfy the lucrative market for their meat.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of Tanzania’s total wildlife population has already been decimated for bushmeat. Experts say, poachers have also found market in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), war-torn Somalia, Burundi, Sudan and other neighboring countries.

A recent study by co-authors Silvia Ceppi and Martin Nielson revealed that there was regular bushmeat consumption by a large proportion of Tanzania’s tribal populations.

The 2014 research titled “A comparative study on bushmeat consumption patterns in ten tribes in Tanzania” warns that some native species are at risk of becoming endangered, or even going extinct, as a result of over-hunting due to the prevalence of bushmeat consumption in the country.

“Many tribes in the country believe that wild meat is healthier than domestic meat, increasing the demand for bushmeat.

It has been estimated that between 40,000 and 200,000 animals are illegally harvested each year in the Serengeti ecosystem,” said part of the study.

“Extrapolating from these estimates … suggests that the value of the bushmeat trade originating in Serengeti is between 1 and 5m/- US dollars per year,” according to the study.

With growing demand from the increasing human population in surrounding communities, these numbers are likely to be higher today, said the study. The study showed that antelope was the most frequently mentioned type of bushmeat consumed in Tanzania, followed by dikdik, duikers, hare and guinea fowl.

Pratik Patel, a leading Tanzanian conservationist who works with the Friedkin Conservation Fund, confirmed that there was a bushmeat crisis in the country.

Maj. General Gaudence Milanzi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said that research conducted by his own ministry had established that the majority of the people who hunt wild animals do so for bushmeat and not for any other reason.

He admitted that the malpractice was there, but not to the extent of 50 per cent of animals being killed as claimed by conservationists.

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