Once again I was teaching my class about the bushmeat trade today. To follow on from the lecture about the bushmeat trade two weeks ago we had a groupwork session on it today. This is another great session as it’s a bit different and a bit of fun but really gets students thinking about the real-life issues that face people dealing with the bushmeat issue. In small groups they have to work together on a scenario. They have to agree how they will deal with the opening up of a new logging consession a fictional government want to open up. Each person represents a different stakeholder e.g. villagers, traders, the logging company, conservationists and the government. They have to work together to think about all the potential issues and conflicts and then come up with workable solutions to try to minimise the conflict for all stakeholders. I get them to draw up their plans on big sheets of paper. Once again it always stimulates lots of discussion and this year was no excpetion. They came up with some pretty interesting options too.
Finding solutions to the bushmeat trade problem is critical. Although habitat destruction is often hailed as the biggest threat to wildlife, hunting of wildlife for meat has become the most significant, immediate threat to wildlife conservation around the world. There have already been local extinctions of species in West Africa and parts of Asia. Many people view this as a crisis, particularly as hunting is now occurring in regions where it wasn’t previously widespread, mainly due to increased commercial logging. Logging opens up forests through the creation of roads and transport links which enable hunters to get their catches to markets from areas they weren’t previously able to reach. It isn’t just wildlife that suffers, it also threatens the livelihod of indigenous populations who traditionally relied on small-scale hunting and gathering for food. Commercial hunting is on a much larger scale and takes this resource away from these people. In addition there’s increasing evidence that the sipread of certain diseases such as Ebola and foot and mouth disease are linked to bushsmeat consumption. It’s therefore critical that conservation and development groups can come up with solutions to this problem. Many organisations, including WWF and the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force are working on this.
This is why I get my students to think about this and to think about it in terms of the real-life conflicts it produces. Here’s what they came up with: