"Raising poor families out of poverty is a moral imperative," said Dr. David Wilkie of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the lead author of the study. "However, if doing so results in the depletion of the wildlife that these families rely upon to meet their daily protein needs, then development assistance may not only result in a loss of biodiversity. It also may put at risk the long-term security of these clients of aid--the rural poor.
The study--which was the first to explore the bushmeat issue across the entire country--was based on surveys conducted in some 1208 households in six locations across Gabon, collecting information on meat consumption, socioeconomic status, and demographic factors. In all instances, the consumption of meat, including wildlife, fish, chicken and livestock, increased with wealth, while rising prices resulted in a decrease in consumption. Growth in the income of poor families resulted in the largest jumps in bushmeat consumption. The rural poor are only 16 percent of the Gabonese population, but as they rely on wildlife for food, they eat 51 percent of all bushmeat consumed. Given this, even a small step out of poverty for the rural poor might have a huge unexpected impact on wildlife conservation and the long-term food security of poor families.
Contrary to what was expected, the price of poultry and livestock appeared to have little statistical effect on the amount of bushmeat consumed. But, increases in the price of bushmeat resulted in both a
Contact: John Delaney
Wildlife Conservation Society