Airdate: Apr 18, 2001
Scientist: John Robinson
Bush Meat: Intro
Due to the trade of wild animal meat, much of the fauna in the world's forests are being wiped out.
ambience: congo forest sounds
A tropical forest should be brimming with life, but because of what's come to be known as the bush meat trade, many animals within the world's forests are being wiped out. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. John Robinson is a Senior Vice President with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and he says that the hunting of wild animals, or bush meat can devastate the fragile ecosystem of a tropical forest.
"Most of the animals that are consumed as bush meat tend to be mammals. They tend to be hoofed animals --primates are very important in the bush meat trade. This includes the gorillas, the chimps, and quite small primates as well. In addition to the mammals, there is a significant harvest of large birds. The wild meat trade is having a major impact on animal populations in tropical forests around the world. We're estimating that one million metric tons of wild meat is harvested from Central African forests every year. That's a level of harvest which is clearly not sustainable. The result of that is as you now go into those forests, you find that they are silent forests. They have been totally hunted out. The animals which are in the forest are gone, and the ecological roles that those animals play -- of seed dispersal, pollination, and the like -- they are no longer fulfilling those roles. And what you're seeing is a forest where the trees are unable to pollinate their fruit, unable to disperse their seeds. We will see a deteriorating forest."
We'll hear more from John Robinson about what is being done to protect tropical forests in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.