Friday, August 24, 2007

Poverty behind hunting in Kenya

from Africa News

The inability of the country's livestock sector to meet current market demands due to poverty among communities living within the precinct of Kenya’s national parks has also been blamed for the rampant trade.

Meat consumers urged to be vigilant

Last month, the Kenyan police reported to have impounded 450 kg of bush meat that was destined for Nairobi from Naivasha, where it was to be passed off as beef to various butcheries in Nairobi. KWS warns that most unsuspecting customers in major towns end up eating bush meat without their knowledge since the meat is sold to them as beef.

“But over and above being an illegal activity we are most worried about the health of the consumers of such meat, because such meat has very high potential of transmitting diseases like anthrax, Ebola and Rift Valley Fever”, Udoto added.

Zebras, gazelles, antelopes most targeted

According to Udoto, the most common animals targeted for bush meat are zebra, gazelles, and antelopes. He warns that the animals might be carrying high chances of transmitting diseases.

“There is a clear policy in our Wildlife Act Cap 376, this is an illegal activity”, says Udoto.

According to available data from the Ministry of Livestock, the cost of 1 kilogram of beef is retailing at between Ksh180 ($2.7) and Ksh200 ($3). The revival of the Kenya Meat Commission has also helped increasing the number of meat production and hence reducing the cost of meat.

Protection strategies

The KWS has embarked on improving its surveillance and intelligence measures that are aimed at tackling the rampant trade in bush meat. The proposed wildlife policy also aims to include communities living within the prescient of national parks in the management of the parks and directly involving them in conservation initiatives.

Already the KWS has increased its community support budget from a mere Ksh56 million ($836,000) to Ksh130 million ($1.9 million). The Director of Livestock Production notes that the increase in beef consumption is greater than the increase in production and demand; this was expected to outstrip supply in the near future. Last week, a man in Nyeri town-260 kilometres East of Nairobi, was arrested after he was found selling meat he had curved from a Python and sold it to unsuspecting customers.

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