Q&A with CIFOR wildlife management expert Nathalie van Vliet
In the Congo Basin, wildmeat is a prime source of protein for rural populations and a treat for city dwellers that consume it as part of their cultural heritage and a symbol of status. More than 12 million tons of bushmeat are sold in the region on a yearly basis, with consumption rates between 10 to 200 kilos per capita. As urban demand grows, pressure on rural food security and biodiversity mounts, creating an urgency to take action towards a more sustainable sector.
Around the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve, a forest protected area in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hunters sell more than 80 percent of their catches, leading to a serious malnutrition problem among rural communities that do not have alternative sources of protein. Meanwhile, urban consumers are increasingly exposed health problems, some of which arise from the consumption of a wildmeat that has been poorly processed, transported on dusty roads for days, and then offered for sale in insalubrious markets.