Types of Hunting and their Negative Effects on Forest and Wildlife
Wildlife is facing serious global challenges, many flora and fauna species are continuously driven closer to extinction on daily basis. Less than 9% of the earth has been set aside as protected areas and there is constant pressure from increased human and cattle population, uncontrolled development of community on forest resources has ultimately caused fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitats.
Although bush meat trade is socio-economically important, researchers have condemned the unsustainable and illegal hunting and harvesting of wild animal meat for commercial purposes as a serious threat to the populations of these wild animals, including trade in them.
National parks are bedeviled with a myriad of problems prominent among them being poaching, logging, illegal grazing and bush burning. Illegal hunting of animals for trophy and meat is usually a major problem experienced in protected areas and is more or less universal in conservation areas of Africa.
Wildlife is facing serious challenges all over the world, and many fauna and flora species are continuously driven closer to extinction on a daily basis.
Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife has become an organized, lucrative and a capital intensive business, with trafficking routes extending from remote national parks and reserves, where animals are trapped and killed, to major urban centres where they are sold and consumed.
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Although wildlife laws exist as a global conservation tool for protection of species, most remain unenforced, due to limited human, financial and material resources required to monitor illegal activities and enforce existing laws. Rules and measures to enforce them are at the heart of conservation.
Local Extinction Due to Hunting
Large animals tend to be those that hunters favour most as killing one animal supplies a large amount of meat, and larger animals tend to be the ones that have the most valuable horns, antlers, tusks, furs, skins, feathers or other artifacts.
Thus, the value returned per unit of time and cost expended by hunters is greatest for large animals.
Large species are rare compared to smaller ones and reproduce slowly; thus, they are especially vulnerable to overhunting and have limited capacity to recover from population declines.
Primates breed more slowly than their size alone would suggest, so they are vulnerable to hunting in ways which are more like those of much larger animals.
This is the illegal killing of wildlife by locals inside the protected area to supplement scarce diet.
This is the illegal killing and or capture of wildlife by locals or outsiders inside the protected area for commercial purposes i.e. to sell the meat in large markets of villages or cities for consumption as delicacy or for pet trade.
Bush meat represents an important protein source in the tropics while gathered plant foods are important dietary supplements to the starchy staple diet.
In at least 62 countries world-wide, wildlife and fish constitute a minimum of 20% of the animal protein in rural diets.
Wildlife provides significant calories to rural communities, as well as essential protein and fats.
Rural people, moving from a subsistence lifestyle to a cash economy, have relatively few options for generating income.
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They can sell agricultural or pastoral produce, work for a cash wage in agriculture or industry, or sell retail goods in local or regional marketplaces.
However for rural people, without access to capital, land or livestock, the harvest of wildlife resources may offer the best return for labour input.
Social and Cultural Values
Wildlife and hunting are intimately linked to many cultures throughout the world’s tropical forests even if in some cases the meat is only of minor nutritional importance.
Important social and cultural values are linked to foods and medicines derived from wild resources.
Therefore while hunting provides meat and income it also remains an important social and cultural tradition for many peoples both in developed and in developing countries.
Acquisition of animal parts as cultural artifacts, for personal adornment or for hunting trophies is still a widespread practice throughout tropical forest regions and the rest of the world.
In many cultures to be a hunter is essential in gaining respect, achieving manhood or winning a bride.
Impacts on Livelihoods
Conventional wisdom tells us that the people who, in theory, will suffer the most from declining wildlife resources due to poaching activities are the millions of people across Latin America, Africa and Asia living in and from the forests.
These people (hunter-gatherers, cultivators, urban poor) are often the poorest and most marginalized people in their country.
They typically lack the education and skills to easily find alternative employment. They lack capital or access to agricultural markets and cannot switch to alternative livelihoods or food sources.
In conclusion, poaching is a complex phenomenon and its motivation and impact on wildlife are diversified in different countries. The harvesting of wildlife, especially for food, is a complex problem, one in which biological issues and conservation concerns should play an important role alongside livelihood issues.
Such a problem has no simple solution and actions will have to be taken at all levels from the international policy dialogue to the field-project level. If attention is focused solely on field-level initiatives, such as protected area management, then the underlying forces driving unsustainable and unregulated harvest will continue.
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