Bushmeat Crisis

By Cynthia Kirk

This is _______ with the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The meat of wild forest animals, called bushmeat, has long been an important part of the diet of people in central and western Africa. But hunters are killing too many of these animals. The hunters are supported by the logging industry that cuts down trees for profit. Environmentalists say animals such as gorillas and chimpanzees are especially at risk. They say these animals are in danger of disappearing if the so-called bushmeat trade is not slowed.

Bushmeat is the main source of animal protein for a majority of people in Congo Kinshasa, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, and Gabon. Experts say individuals who hunt meat for their families do not affect the number of animals in the African forests. But they say this has changed in recent years because of over-hunting for the illegal bushmeat trade.

Bushmeat is sold in markets and eating places in African cities. Bushmeat is also sold in local markets near logging settlements where it is popular among the thousands of workers.

Jane Goodall is an expert on gorillas in the wild. She says the logging companies have made the situation worse because they have built roads deep into forests. She says that has made it easier for hunters to reach endangered animals.

Environmentalists say hunting is only one of the problems facing the animals. The animals are also threatened by millions of central Africans who have been displaced by civil wars in the past ten years. Armed citizens are killing wildlife because they are unable to get other kinds of food.

Environmentalists say logging companies need to be pressured to ban the export of any threatened animals. And they say local people need to be educated about the dangers of eating bushmeat. Some bushmeat has been shown to contain the deadly Ebola virus and the AIDS virus.

Environmentalists say the bushmeat trade can be reduced by providing other kinds of animal meat for people to eat. But they say this can only be done with the help of international aid organizations.

Jane Goodall says many animals in central Africa could disappear in the next twenty years without efforts to deal with the bushmeat problem. An international group called the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force is working with other organizations to develop a plan of action.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is _______.

Voice of America Special English