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September 18 (UPI) – Researchers have identified a shift in the bushmeat trade in and around Niger National Park in Guinea, West Africa.
New survey data, released Friday in the Oryx review, revealed by increased trade in several species that feed on local crops, including the green monkey, Chlorocebus sabaeus, and the warthog, Phacochoerus africanus.
The finding suggests that economic realities have eroded cultural taboos against the slaughter and consumption of monkeys and wild pigs in West Africa, a predominantly Muslim region.
The researchers were able to identify fluctuations in the bushmeat or wild meat trade by comparing more recent market research data, collected between 2011 and 2017, with data collected during the 1990s and between 2001 and 2011.
“To our knowledge, no other study has really explored the temporal changes in the wild meat trade, and our study clearly highlights the main changes in this regard,” said the lead author of the ‘study, Tatyana Humle, professor of ecology and conservation at the University of Kent in Britain, told UPI.
To collect accurate data, Humle said it’s important for researchers to build trusting relationships with sellers of wild meat and help them understand the purpose of the study. It is also important that researchers do not interfere in market activities.
During regular visits to local markets, Humle’s research team recorded where wild meat was sold, as well as what types of wild meat – at the species level, if possible – were available at the store. sale.
Comparison of market data showed that fluctuations in the wild meat trade in Guinea are largely due to increased rural demand. The structure of the bushmeat trade has remained fairly stable in the town of Faranah over the past decades.
“In Guinea, as in many other countries in the region, rural populations in particular depend heavily on wild meat for their protein consumption and income,” said Humle. “It is therefore essential to understand what is going on in order to more effectively align conservation actions with the livelihood challenges faced by the inhabitants of these localities. “
Researchers have found that small mammals dominate the bushmeat trade in Guinea, especially species that feed on local crops. With just one kill, farmers can both protect their crops and earn extra money.
“The increased trade in wildlife that feeds on crops is potentially a trend we would expect to see elsewhere, as subsistence and commercial farming activities and other land use conversion practices spread throughout the country. landscapes, encroaching on habitats used by wildlife, ”said Humle.
The trade in wild meat presents a variety of risks, including an increased risk of zoonoses, diseases that jump between wildlife and humans and livestock.
“International wildlife trade is one of the main threats to biodiversity,” said Humle.
The trade in wild meat can also lead to local extinctions and significant losses of biodiversity, leading to the loss of ecological services, such as pollination and dispersal of seeds of essential fruit trees.
The researchers hope their market research can help environmentalists develop more effective strategies to curb the growth of the wild meat trade.
“Research is essential to fight the growth of the wild meat trade, because without understanding the models and the drivers, we cannot identify together with those involved in this activity effective solutions to combat the trade”, Humle said.
“It is also essential that research findings inform community development and conservation policies and actions,” she said. “Law enforcement is in itself futile unless drivers are understood and treated adequately.”