The domestic consumption of meat from wild animals has significant impacts on most species protected under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, according to a new report.
The study – Impacts of Taking, Trade and Consumption of Terrestrial Migratory Species for Wild Meat – said that 70 per cent of mammal species protected under the CMS are used for wild meat consumption. This led to drastic declines and also the extinction of several migratory mammal populations, the report pointed out.
In the report, the authors noted that wild meat was often a major driver for legal and illegal hunting, particularly of ungulates – primarily large mammals with hooves – and primates, and especially during times of conflict or famine and in the course of changing land use.
The report mentions that there was strong evidence that zoonotic disease outbreaks are linked to human activities, as is strongly believed by many scientists in the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
It said that consuming wild meat has been identified as the direct and causative agent for the spill-over into humans for Monkey pox virus, SARS, Sudan Ebola and Zaire Ebola virus, In total, 60 zoonotic viral pathogens were reported as hosted by the 105 migratory species studied.
It noted that encroachment into remaining intact habitats through infrastructure and economic activities have made vast new areas accessible for wild meat taking, increasing the risk for humans.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said that COVID-19 pandemic has taught that overexploitation of nature comes at a heavy cost. “We urgently need to depart from business as usual. In so doing, we can save many species from the brink of extinction and protect ourselves from future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases,” she said.
DOMESTIC USE, MAIN CONCERN
A lot of attention is on international trade. However, the report notes that vast majority of wild meat consumption is driven by direct use or domestic trade.
CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel claimed that the report indicated for the first time a clear and urgent need to focus on domestic use of protected migratory species of wild animals.
The report said that national legislation and regulations lack clarity and rules are often poorly enforced. Another issue is civil conflict and land use change. Another issue that leads to higher consumption is that migratory animals cross countries and regions with a wide variety of differing laws and enforcement approaches. Finally, urbanization and increased sale of wild meat as a luxury product is on the rise.
Around 77 per cent, or 40 out of 52, of the CMS species that were assessed by IUCN as having decreasing populations, were recorded as threatened by hunting. The report cites the example of chimpanzee subspecies and three of the four gorilla subspecies reported as significantly threatened by hunting are experiencing large population declines.
The report mentions that taking or poaching the mammals has a direct impact on the populations of more than half of the studied species.
- Gathering of comparable and collatable data on hunting offtakes and species abundance to enable more complete assessments of impacts of hunting for wildlife consumption and trade.
- Review existing national hunting legislation and regulations, as well as the enforcement of these regulations, is needed.
- Examine capacity for monitoring and enforcement
- Address the drivers contributing to the use of wildlife for domestic consumption, especially in urban areas
- International cooperation to address wild meat taking, particularly for migratory species whose ranges may span vast areas that include various countries.