Eating the meat of wild animals has significant impacts on most species protected under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), including increasing the risk of zoonotic diseases.
According to a new report published on Wednesday, 70% of CMS-protected mammal species are used for the consumption of wild meat.
It stated that the decline and extinction of many migratory mammal populations have been drastic.
The report says that wild meat often drives legal and illegal hunting, especially for ungulates – largely big hooves mammals – and primates, in particular during conflicts or hunger and in the course of changing land use.
Of the 105 species studied approximately 67 were registered as hunted. The largest intended uses of these 67 species (47) were for consumption of wild meat.
Cultural tradition, medicinal use, conflicts between humans and wildlife, unintended use and sports or trophy hunting were other purposes.
The report showed strong evidence of the association with human activity between zoonotic diseases outbreaks.
The taking and eating of wild meat has been found in the area of Monkeypox, SARS, Sudan Ebola, and Zaire Ebola virus and is the direct and causative agent of the spillage into humans and subsequently transmitted from one person to another.
In all, the 105 migratory species studied had 60 zoonotic viral pathogens.
Entry through infrastructure and economic activities to remaining unspoiled habitats has made huge new areas accessible to the use of wild meat and increases the risk of human beings.
Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, pointed out that “the COVID-19 pandemic has taught that the overexploitation of nature comes at a heavy cost.”
“We urgently need to depart from business as usual. In so doing, we can save many species from the brink of extinction and protect ourselves from future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases,” she said.
For CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel, the 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.”
The study also documented links between hunting and the declining population trends of several species.
Around 77 percent, or 40 out of 52, of the CMS species, that IUCN assessed as having decreasing populations were recorded as threatened by hunting.
For example, all chimpanzee subspecies and three of the four gorilla subspecies reported as significantly threatened by hunting are also experiencing large population declines.
Overall, the report found that taking or poaching the mammals directly impacted the populations of more than half of the studied species, with high impacts for at least 42 percent.
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