‘Taking of animals for wild meat consumption impacts terrestrial species’

A first of its kind report covering 105 CMS species has found that taking of animals for wild meat consumption within national borders is having significant impacts, more than international trade, on most terrestrial species protected under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

As an environmental treaty of the United Nations, CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.

“Wild meat is often a key use and a major driver for legal and illegal hunting, particularly of ungulates and primates, and especially during times of conflict or famine and in the course of land-use change. This has led to drastic declines and extinctions of several migratory terrestrial mammal populations,” a release from the CMS said.

As many as 67 of the 105 species studied were recorded as hunted, which means, almost 70 per cent of hunted CMS terrestrial mammal species are used for wild meat consumption.

Of these 67 species, the largest intended use (47 species) was for wild meat consumption. Other hunting purposes identified were for cultural reasons, medicinal use, human-wildlife conflict, unintentional take and sport/trophy hunting/fashion, the release said.

Taking for domestic use is a larger concern than international trade for most CMS terrestrial species, the release said.

Global attention to wildlife taking has largely focused on international trade. However, the report found that the vast majority of taking of CMS species for wild meat consumption is driven by direct use or domestic trade.

“This has major implications for international and national efforts to protect vulnerable and endangered species,” it observed.

Overall, among the types of uses, 34 of 99 species with an IUCN Red List Assessment were reported as ‘used at the subsistence level’ (direct use); 27 were traded nationally, and 22 were traded internationally. However, when only meat for consumption was considered, 27 species (out of 99) were reported as consumed for subsistence, 10 species for national wild meat trade and only two species for international wild meat trade.

CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said, “This report indicates for the first time a clear and urgent need to focus on domestic use of protected migratory species of wild animals, across their range. We need to ensure that domestic laws and enforcement efforts are able to tackle this major threat to CMS species.”

As the report also examined the link between the takings of species for wild meat with the risk of zoonotic diseases, it established how it significantly increased the risk of future zoonotic diseases.

“There is strong evidence that zoonotic disease outbreaks are linked to human activities. Wild meat taking and consumption has been identified as the direct and causative agent for the spill-over into humans for Monkeypox virus, SARS, Sudan Ebola virus and Zaire Ebola virus, with subsequent human-to-human transmission,” the release said, adding that in total, 60 zoonotic viral pathogens were reported as hosted by the 105 migratory species studied.