US Government Interagency Bushmeat Task Force - Summary
- Numerous agencies within the US government have the legal authority to address illegal importation of wildlife (bushmeat) into the United States but there is lack of information coordination and understanding among agencies regarding addressing incoming bushmeat shipments.
- Numerous agencies within the US government maintain resources, both financial and technical, that, if better coordinated, could be utilized to support improved capacity to manage bushmeat trade in nations where the wildlife originates as well as the importation of bushmeat into the United States.
- There are considerable risks to human, wildlife, and livestock health associated with the illegal importation of bushmeat into the US from Africa, improved coordination of management effort is important to national security.
- BCTF has been actively engaged with its Supporting Members and numerous colleagues in the US Government toward encouraging the establishment of a US Interagency Bushmeat Task Force.
The commercial exploitation of African wildlife for human consumption exceeds sustainable levels in all areas where it has been examined. Unregulated bushmeat hunting is decimating numerous species of African animals and has already caused widespread local extinctions throughout West Africa. Central Africa is currently a priority focus area due to the dramatic trends in bushmeat commercialization and immediate impacts on endangered and threatened species. East and Southern Africa are increasingly experiencing development of commercial bushmeat trade. The unsustainable bushmeat trade is an issue involving economic, ecological, health, and cultural considerations. The extensive commercialization of bushmeat across long distances including export to Europe and the United States raises serious national, regional and global health concerns. Whether the current over-harvesting of species is brought to an end by law enforcement or by extinction, ensuring food security throughout Africa is a top priority for both US and international efforts.
Numerous US Government Agencies retain resources which, when combined, could provide an effective forum for developing strategies toward supporting African nations in their efforts to respond to the bushmeat crisis. Significant support is needed to conduct further research into the links between human health and the bushmeat trade (e.g. the transfer of ebola and SIV to HIV/AIDS), to assist the private sector in developing viable alternatives to bushmeat, to improve logging and mining practices that are opening new areas to increased hunting, to understand linkages between bushmeat hunting and food security, and to conserve undisturbed habitats as national parks and other protected areas to avoid being left with 'empty forests'.