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 user 2008-01-22 at 12:32:00 pm Views: 32
  • #19254

    Refugee link to wildlife decline
    Conservation groups say they have found an unusual threat to East Africa’s wildlife – hunting by hungry refugees.
    report from the wildlife trade monitoring body Traffic says wild meat
    is covertly traded, cooked and consumed in Tanzanian refugee
    camps.Traffic suspects species affected may include chimpanzee, buffalo
    and zebra.Tanzania hosts more refugees than any other African nation, a
    legacy of conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of
    Congo.The UN says there are more than half a million refugees in the
    country, mainly living in camps near the western border.The border is
    also home to important wildlife refuges such as Gombe National Park,
    which achieved international fame as the site of Jane Goodall’s
    pioneering studies of chimp behaviour.

    Basic ‘failure’
    In its
    60-page report, Traffic says the refugees are turning to wildlife
    because agencies supplying food are not providing meat.”The scale of
    wild meat consumption in East African refugee camps has helped conceal
    the failure of the international community to meet basic refugee
    needs,” said the report’s principal author Dr George Jambiya.”Relief
    agencies are turning a blind eye to the real cause of poaching and
    illegal trade – a lack of meat protein in refugees’ rations.”The World
    Food Programme (WFP), which supplies food to more than 200,000 refugees
    in Tanzania, said it did not believe there was a big problem.A survey
    conducted last year showed little response to a question on whether
    refugees were obtaining food from hunting, gathering or fishing.”The
    refugees are given a balanced diet of cereals, dried beans,
    vitamin-fortified blended food, vegetable oil fortified with Vitamin A
    and iodised salt,” a WFP spokesman told BBC News.”To continue to meet
    the nutritional requirements of the refugees with meat as suggested by
    the report would require substituting canned meat for the much less
    expensive beans that we currently provide.”This would almost double the
    budget for food provision, WFP calculates.

    Tale of decline
    admits that the real scale of the hunting problem is not known, but
    offers a raft of observational evidence and first-person testimony to
    back its case.In 1994, when intense ethnic fighting in Rwanda drove an
    estimated 600,000 refugees into the area of Tanzania surrounding Burigi
    National Park, wildlife in the park declined sharply.Buffalo numbers
    fell from about 2,670 to just 44. Roan antelope declined from 466 to 15
    and zebra from 6,552 to 606, while the estimated population of 324
    Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, a type of antelope, vanished
    completely.Similar trends have been found in other parks near camps.

    when camps have closed, numbers have often recovered.Long-time
    residents of camps, meanwhile, told researchers that a clandestine
    network of hunters and processors continues to supply illegally caught
    wild meat.Traffic, which is a joint operation of the World Conservation
    Union (IUCN) and WWF, recommends that refugee agencies and the
    Tanzanian government look for ways to increase the supply of meat
    protein to the refugees.Livestock rearing, ranching of wild species,
    and regulated hunting are all measures that could help provide a
    sustainable supply of meat in some areas, the agency says.