No conservation silver lining to Ebola

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In August 2014, the United Nations health authority declared the Ebola epidemic centered on Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea an "international public health emergency" (WHO 2014). By October, public commentaries were omnipresent in print and online, including several statements in the mass media by wildlife conservationists. Their comments raise a number of uncomfortable issues about the consumption and trade of bushmeat in the region and in Africa more broadly that merit unpacking and rebuttal. The Ebola epidemic should not, in our view, be used as a Trojan horse to achieve wildlife conservation ends. This is both because some of the proposed conservation measures are of questionable efficacy, and may even backfire, and because doing so raises unfortunate associations with the long history of an outdated discourse of conservation in Africa that favored wildlife over people.

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