Too much bush meat on the menu
In Congo, bush meat is very popular. Both strict regulation and alternative protein sources are necessary in order to protect biodiversity.
Bush meat – meat from hunted wild game from the forest or the jungle - is an important source of protein for rural dwellers in the tropics. Moreover, the trade in this bush meat provides many families with a substantial additional source of income. In Kisangani (DR Congo), bush meat concerns large wild game such as elephants, okapis and African buffaloes, and smaller wild game such as chimpanzees, bush pigs and antelope-like animals.
It goes without saying that excessive hunting can gradually decimate these species. Ultimately, this will place a time bomb under the incomes of many families and make it difficult for them to meet their nutritional needs. Congo therefore has various regulations in place to restrict wild game hunting: protected species, hunting licenses, limited hunting seasons, banned weapons and prohibited areas.
As Congo’s population increases, the demand for animal proteins grows, both in urban and rural areas, while poverty leaves many people looking for an extra income.
However, research by the University of Kisangani - with Belgian support - shows that this these regulations are repeatedly infringed. As Congo’s population increases, the demand for animal proteins grows, both in urban and rural areas, while poverty leaves many people looking for an extra income, which many find in poaching. Moreover, bullets and illegal weapons are readily available. As large game animals are becoming increasingly rare because of the continuous hunting, the focus is being put more and more on small game animals.
That is why the researchers advise to review the hunting regulations and to make them better respected. In addition, hunters should be made more aware of these laws and good hunting practices, whereas administrations and scientists should exchange more data so that they can continuously monitor the impact of hunting on wildlife. The study also proposes to do more research on the entire bush meat chain, from hunting to trade and consumption. Finally, it is essential to tackle the major causes: poverty and the need for proteins. This can be done by promoting alternative sources of protein provided by cattle breeding and fish farming.
See also the original policy document (in French)
The research for this article was carried out with the support of CEBioS (= 'Capacities for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development'). This programme is financed by the Belgian Development Cooperation and is housed in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). CEBioS supports a number of countries such as Benin, DR Congo, Burundi and Vietnam in the development of indicators to monitor their biodiversity. This should allow them to better report on their biodiversity within the UN Convention on Biodiversity.
Within CEBioS, ten people follow up on 'biodiversity and development', including support for research, information, awareness-raising, policy advice and publications on biodiversity and development in the South. CEBioS also organises short internship visits in Belgium and on-site workshops for institutions in developing countries. Besides, it makes the colonial archives of the former national parks accessible by digitising them.