The last week saw two trips to local schools to bring them a lesson aimed at educating the children in the dangers of trapping and eating bushmeat . At Roka Primary School, around 100 children from all classes crammed into the classroom, whilst at Ngala Girls Secondary School we addressed around 30 students from the school’s Wildlife Club.
So what is bushmeat? And why are we telling kids that eating it is a problem? Essentially, bushmeat is the flesh of any wild animal, such as antelope, mongoose and duicker.
The trapping and consumption of bushmeat in Kenya is a problem for many reasons. Firstly, the practice is illegal, and anyone caught hunting or setting traps can face a penalty of up to 8 years imprisonment. On a more environmental level, the indiscriminate use of snares (the primary method of catching bushmeat) is non-selective in the animals caught, and can have serious impacts on local wildlife populations. In places such as the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, where species such as the Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew are extremely endangered, such poaching has the potential to be disastrous. In addition, the meat from animals trapped can possibly harbour lethal diseases, such as anthrax and…??. All meat sold in Kenya should be checked and stamped by health officers; bushmeat caught in snares goes without those standard checks and consumption can be particularly harmful to one’s health.
We were working closely with Patrick, the local Bushmeat Control Officer, who came along to contribute to the teaching and show a video. This is a film made by a local production company and has the advantage of being in Kiswahelli, making it easier for the children to follow the plot. The story follows the fortunes of a family who’s main source of protein is through bushmeat, but who are struggling due to dwindling populations, which they think is as a result of mass-market poachers. One day, the father traps an antelope, causing a family-wide celebration. However, their lucky day takes a turn for the worse when they begin to discover first-hand the tragic consequences of eating bush meat. More....