Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates that more than half of the species being consumed are birds, particularly large birds like raptors and hornbills. "By surveying not only the meat made available for sale but the meat that is being eaten inside the forest by hunters and brought to villages for consumption, we noted a significant percentage attributed to bird species," said Bethan Morgan, head of the Central African Program for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. "The significant use of large birds like eagles, vultures and hornbills as bushmeat poses a new side to this conservation challenge."
The study indicates that more than half of meat surveyed was of avian origin, with the larger species like birds of prey forming a significant portion of the whole. Documenting the effects of bushmeat use and trade on endangered species in Africa is part of the work being done in the proposed Ebo Forest National Park under the auspices of San Diego Zoo Global. The bushmeat trade is not only a conservation challenge, as species are eradicated through consumption, but has also been highlighted as a significant human health concern linked to several zoonotic disease outbreaks globally.
The new study, funded jointly by San Diego Zoo Global and The Peregrine Fund, is presented in the July issue of the academic journal "Oryx."