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  • FTA Highlight No. 6 – Wild Meat

FTA Highlight No. 6 – Wild Meat

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FTA communications

Millions of people worldwide depend, to varying degrees, on non-wood forest products such as wild meat, including more than 150 million in the Global South.

For many rural people wild meat is the most accessible and most consumed source of protein. Urban dwellers also consume wild meat, but choose wild meat for reasons other than nutrition, including a desire to connect to a rural past or to culture.

The sale of wild meat also contributes to livelihoods for increasing numbers of hunters.

Evidence is increasing that this is depleting the populations of many forest animals. Coupled with habitat loss and deforestation, overhunting can result in the extinction of species.

As part of “FTA’s highlights of a decade,” a new series focusing on its main results since being established in 2011, the FTA program is now publishing the volume on Wild Meat.

Globally, there is evidence of the risks of overhunting. The global, local or functional extinction of populations or species of larger animals —known as defaunation — can change the long-term dynamics of ecosystems.

Campaigns around the bushmeat “crisis” emerged in the early 1990s. Those initiatives gave way to efforts to develop alternative livelihoods to replace the demand for wild meat and looked for biological and policy responses to prevent wildlife declines and promote human well-being.

The Bushmeat Research Initiative (BRI) was established in 2011 under CGIAR’s FTA Program. It has three main objectives: strengthening the evidence base for effective interventions; identifying gaps in knowledge and areas where further work is required; and recommending policy changes to address the overexploitation of wild meat.

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The Bushmeat Research Initiative (BRI) has produced studies in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and a global assessment.

BRI’s work has generated a better understanding of the importance of Indigenous Peoples in protecting biodiversity.

The BRI-CIFOR team, with its partners, created the global WILDMEAT database, a powerful evidence base for policy makers, practitioners, researchers and civil society.

The association between wild meat and disease has stimulated research on wild meat and human health in general, and Ebola virus disease outbreaks.

Summary of research undertaken by the BRI and partners to investigate the potential drivers associated with Ebola outbreaks

Africa’s urban population is expected to more than triple over 40 years, which will have a strong impact on the animal populations that provide wild meat.

Wild meat network of a typical family in the Colombian Amazon, illustrating the variety of scenarios in wild meat exchanges

CIFOR via the BRI was a member of the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) programme.

Research led by BRI found that a crucial element is providing local people with alternative sources of animal protein.

The BRI-CIFOR team, with its country partners, carried out a project in 10 Baka villages in Cameroon. Baka Pygmy hunters participated in mapping their hunting territories.

Understanding the complex dynamics of wild meat use in the COVID-19 world will require increased collaboration between environmental and resource entities and the ecological and conservation sciences.

Download the publication to find out how future initiatives can build on FTA results and work in way that ensures a balance between humans and native fauna species, social inclusiveness, respect for traditional knowledge, cross-sector approaches, and capacity building.

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  • COVID-19-led ban on wild meat could take protein off the table for millions of forest dwellers

COVID-19-led ban on wild meat could take protein off the table for millions of forest dwellers

Young man hunting in the forest, Yangambi, DRC. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR
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FTA communications

Originally posted on Forest News

Lack of access to wild meat could result in hunger and malnutrition for local and Indigenous communities

Conservationists have greeted China’s recent clampdown on wild animal hunting and consumption with enthusiasm.

The government made the move based on scientific theories that COVID-19 was transmitted from a pangolin or a bat to humans in a market in the city of Wuhan.

A similar response to the capture and consumption of wild meat occurred during the Ebola outbreak, which originated in an animal-human interaction and raged in West Africa from 2014 to 2016. At that time, conservationists suggested the disease was good for wildlife because people would not be eating wild animals as a result.

The transmission of disease between animals and people is nothing new. Animals have been the vector of more than 60 percent of infectious diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also states that three of every four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.

In the Middle Ages, plague, which is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, found in small mammals and their fleas, led to pandemics. Known as the “Black Death,” in the 14th century it caused more than 50 million deaths in Europe. The Spanish flu virus, which is thought to have originated in pigs, led to the 1918-1919 pandemic, killing an estimated 40 million people worldwide.

Diseases often jump from animals to humans, but become much more serious and have the potential to create pandemics when human-to-human transmission occurs.

How does this happen? The current focus is on wild fauna, but remember, as in the case of the Spanish flu, some of the deadliest diseases have been transmitted to humans not by wildlife, but by domestic livestock. For example, poultry sparked avian influenza and rodents led to the plague and cause hantaviruses.

First, transmission occurs when humans create contacts with wild fauna in places where none previously existed. In other words, humans “go” to the site of virus reservoirs.

Research into Ebola by a multidisciplinary team coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Spain’s University of Malaga and Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University, into how wild animals, humans and natural landscapes interact, demonstrates that in large measure the problem is linked to deforestation and habitat degradation, which leads to environmental oscillations that enable the jump of diseases from animals to humans.

In a more recent study, the team showed that when bats in African rainforests are unsettled by humans, contact increases with people, likely influencing the spread of Ebola or other diseases carried by bats.

Second, transmission occurs when humans bring the reservoirs to their favored environments. For example, live animal markets or even pet trade sites — think psittacosis, also known as parrot fever.

The  global wildlife trade – whether legal or illegal – valued at billions of dollars, is also to blame for the spread of pathogens and infectious diseases resulting from the legal or illegal transport of animals or from selling them alive in markets in appalling conditions.

These two mechanisms of disease transmission from animals to humans are quite universal, even in the case of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

However, the solution to the problem must be more nuanced than an outright global ban.

If China’s example of outlawing hunting of wild animals is taken up by other countries, this could mean that millions of people – often the poorest rural and Indigenous communities – will not be allowed to access – through hunting or gathering wild animals – the only source of animal protein available to them.

Where no other protein is available, eating wild meat is a necessity, but it should be banned where there are alternatives and where profiteering from wildlife is the motive. Many urban consumers consider wild meat a luxury item, while others might buy it because they have migrated from rural areas to cities and they want to continue eating the food they traditionally consumed.

In very simple terms: nations should forbid the sale of live animals, close markets selling live animals, stop wildlife trafficking and stem the trade of wild animals from forests to cities.

By doing this, we help conserve wildlife in their habitats and enable communities to use this resource. Research shows that city dwellers do not rely on wild meat as the only source of animal protein, since other affordable sources of meat are available.

The interrelationship between wild meat consumption, food security and poverty alleviation must be explored simultaneously when making decisions without relying on an outdated colonial discourse of conservation that favors wildlife over people.

Rural and Indigenous communities who harvest wild meat sustainably as a source of dietary protein already face growing competition from deforestation, biodiversity loss, legal and illegal trade. We should not add to these increased risks of malnutrition or hunger.

Many tropical forests face “empty forest” syndrome – they are forests in good standing, but they are depleted of large animals because of overhunting, disease, the impact of climate change, deforestation and forest degradation.

To address unsustainable exploitation amid growing concerns about animal-human disease transmission, sound and locally-tailored policies must be developed and implemented.

CIFOR and the partners of the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme — which includes the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the French Agricultural Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Wildlife Conservation Society — with support from the European Commission, are contributing to this effort through research-action, open consultations, working with communities to learn how to best protect the livelihoods and traditions of subsistence forest and rural dwellers and the landscapes they depend upon.


By Robert Nasi and John E. Fa

FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, INBAR, ICRAF and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

 

Access all FTA publications on bushmeat here.

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  • Ebola outbreaks linked to forest loss, new study finds

Ebola outbreaks linked to forest loss, new study finds

A river rund through Mau Forest in Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Wildmeat is sold at Bartica market in Guyana. Photo by M. Lopez/CIFOR

Scientists track the disease to the edge of newly cleared forests.

News of an Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) outbreak strikes fear not only in Africa where it originates, but around the world. In humans, the virus produces severe symptoms such as bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth, loss of consciousness, seizures and eventual death.

First discovered in 1976 in Central Africa, the worst outbreak happened between 2014-2016 when the virus rapidly spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, killing more than 11,000 men, women and children. Cases were also reported in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. With no known cure, governments must rely on prevention and control strategies to contain new outbreaks.

But in a new study, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Spain’s Universidad de Malaga and other partner institutions have uncovered a vital piece of the Ebola puzzle — when and where outbreaks can occur.

Watch: Let’s talk about bushmeat

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

“Since Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals we were initially very interested in the link between the virus and bushmeat practices,” says Professor John E. Fa, a Senior Associate at CIFOR and a Professor at the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University.

“This led us to the next question: we knew there was no evidence that Ebola happens in cycles, so we asked, ‘What other conditions on the ground are there to encourage this virus to flourish and infect people?’” says Fa.

A river runs through Mau Forest in Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

The team — made up of practitioners, landscape ecologists and modellers, the latter led by Dr. Jesus Olivero of the Faculty of Sciences in Malaga — joined forces to investigate patterns of forest loss in areas where Ebola disease outbreaks had been recorded, and other sites where no outbreaks had occurred. The question to be answered was whether there were substantial differences in the rates and extent of deforestation in these two distinct types of sites.

“The comparison is remarkable. In the outbreak areas, it’s not just more deforestation, but there is also greater forest fragmentation,” says Olivero.

The scientists point out that as large forest blocks are broken up into smaller fragments, this may become an open invitation for new instances of contact to take place between humans and potential natural carriers, thereby increasing the risk of an outbreak.

Although the possible link between forest loss and zoonotic disease has been suggested before, the findings of the present work provide strong evidence of an association between Ebola outbreak locations and deforestation. The breakthrough in the new study occurred when the team noted a pattern in the timing of deforestation prior to the outbreaks.

“For the first time, we saw a direct correlation between forest fragmentation and when EVD outbreaks happen,” says Olivero.

“We found that EVD outbreaks tended to occur in areas that experienced forest loss up to two years prior.”

Read more: Eating and conserving bushmeat in Africa

GETTING A HEADS UP

The research team says the data could lead to the development of an early warning system, which means governments in Ebola risk regions can get a head start on implementing interventions. This is key, because most EVD outbreaks happen in remote, rural communities where there are few resources.

“Once we know where these potential hotspots are, we can create a map showing where an outbreak is likely to occur and mobilize people and resources to monitor local communities,” says Fa.

This means that surveillance and medical teams, as well as community awareness activities, could make preparations in identified high-risk areas before the virus strikes and, in doing so, save lives.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION 

A sign advertises wild meat in Guyana. Photo by M. Lopez/CIFOR

The new study clearly suggests that preserving forested areas must be a high priority for nations throughout the world.

“Tropical rainforests are chock-a-block with species of all kinds, including pathogens, which means that for such a high diversity of animal hosts there are corresponding parasites, viruses, and so on,” notes Fa.

“Our feeling is that once you start playing around with an ecosystem, you might have a flurry of activity of viruses that may even start looking for new hosts,” he adds.

Fa says much more needs to be done to fully understand how EVD outbreaks occur, and how the virus is transmitted. The team is currently looking at how outbreaks may be influenced by climate, and how potential Ebola host animals, such as bats, may be linked to deforestation.

“It is now fundamental to go to the field to find out what creates disease flurries, and also to do more research into different types of forests with different levels of deforestation. We need to know what happens to the species, what happens to the virus, in these areas,” he says.

Fa adds that it’s crucial to look at the big picture, at how emerging infectious diseases like Ebola are moving out of remote areas and infecting the general public, and the role that nature plays.

“We see the importance of keeping biodiversity intact,” he concludes.

Watch: Future solutions for bushmeat in Colombia

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

This research is part of CIFOR’s Bushmeat Research Initiative. For more information on this topic, please contact John E. Fa at jfa949@gmail.com or Jesus Olivero at jesusolivero@uma.es.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. It is also supported by UK aid from the UK Government and USAID. 

  • Home
  • Ebola outbreaks linked to forest loss, new study finds

Ebola outbreaks linked to forest loss, new study finds

A river rund through Mau Forest in Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Wildmeat is sold at Bartica market in Guyana. Photo by M. Lopez/CIFOR

Scientists track the disease to the edge of newly cleared forests.

News of an Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) outbreak strikes fear not only in Africa where it originates, but around the world. In humans, the virus produces severe symptoms such as bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth, loss of consciousness, seizures and eventual death.

First discovered in 1976 in Central Africa, the worst outbreak happened between 2014-2016 when the virus rapidly spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, killing more than 11,000 men, women and children. Cases were also reported in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. With no known cure, governments must rely on prevention and control strategies to contain new outbreaks.

But in a new study, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Spain’s Universidad de Malaga and other partner institutions have uncovered a vital piece of the Ebola puzzle — when and where outbreaks can occur.

Watch: Let’s talk about bushmeat

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

“Since Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals we were initially very interested in the link between the virus and bushmeat practices,” says Professor John E. Fa, a Senior Associate at CIFOR and a Professor at the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University.

“This led us to the next question: we knew there was no evidence that Ebola happens in cycles, so we asked, ‘What other conditions on the ground are there to encourage this virus to flourish and infect people?’” says Fa.

A river runs through Mau Forest in Kenya. Photo by P. Shepherd/CIFOR

The team — made up of practitioners, landscape ecologists and modellers, the latter led by Dr. Jesus Olivero of the Faculty of Sciences in Malaga — joined forces to investigate patterns of forest loss in areas where Ebola disease outbreaks had been recorded, and other sites where no outbreaks had occurred. The question to be answered was whether there were substantial differences in the rates and extent of deforestation in these two distinct types of sites.

“The comparison is remarkable. In the outbreak areas, it’s not just more deforestation, but there is also greater forest fragmentation,” says Olivero.

The scientists point out that as large forest blocks are broken up into smaller fragments, this may become an open invitation for new instances of contact to take place between humans and potential natural carriers, thereby increasing the risk of an outbreak.

Although the possible link between forest loss and zoonotic disease has been suggested before, the findings of the present work provide strong evidence of an association between Ebola outbreak locations and deforestation. The breakthrough in the new study occurred when the team noted a pattern in the timing of deforestation prior to the outbreaks.

“For the first time, we saw a direct correlation between forest fragmentation and when EVD outbreaks happen,” says Olivero.

“We found that EVD outbreaks tended to occur in areas that experienced forest loss up to two years prior.”

Read more: Eating and conserving bushmeat in Africa

GETTING A HEADS UP

The research team says the data could lead to the development of an early warning system, which means governments in Ebola risk regions can get a head start on implementing interventions. This is key, because most EVD outbreaks happen in remote, rural communities where there are few resources.

“Once we know where these potential hotspots are, we can create a map showing where an outbreak is likely to occur and mobilize people and resources to monitor local communities,” says Fa.

This means that surveillance and medical teams, as well as community awareness activities, could make preparations in identified high-risk areas before the virus strikes and, in doing so, save lives.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION 

A sign advertises wild meat in Guyana. Photo by M. Lopez/CIFOR

The new study clearly suggests that preserving forested areas must be a high priority for nations throughout the world.

“Tropical rainforests are chock-a-block with species of all kinds, including pathogens, which means that for such a high diversity of animal hosts there are corresponding parasites, viruses, and so on,” notes Fa.

“Our feeling is that once you start playing around with an ecosystem, you might have a flurry of activity of viruses that may even start looking for new hosts,” he adds.

Fa says much more needs to be done to fully understand how EVD outbreaks occur, and how the virus is transmitted. The team is currently looking at how outbreaks may be influenced by climate, and how potential Ebola host animals, such as bats, may be linked to deforestation.

“It is now fundamental to go to the field to find out what creates disease flurries, and also to do more research into different types of forests with different levels of deforestation. We need to know what happens to the species, what happens to the virus, in these areas,” he says.

Fa adds that it’s crucial to look at the big picture, at how emerging infectious diseases like Ebola are moving out of remote areas and infecting the general public, and the role that nature plays.

“We see the importance of keeping biodiversity intact,” he concludes.

Watch: Future solutions for bushmeat in Colombia

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

This research is part of CIFOR’s Bushmeat Research Initiative. For more information on this topic, please contact John E. Fa at jfa949@gmail.com or Jesus Olivero at jesusolivero@uma.es.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. It is also supported by UK aid from the UK Government and USAID. 


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