The Zambia Wildlife Authority reported that officials in that African nation recovered almost four and a half tons of assorted game meat found inside an abandoned truck in Luanshya, a copper mining town in the northern part of the country.
(A quick geography refresher: Zambia and neighboring nation of Zimbabwe were once part of the former British colony of Rhodesia in southern Africa. A country of about 14 million people living in often sparsely settled tropical highlands, Zambia is perhaps best known as the site of Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall).
According to the Zambia Daily Mail, Joyce Kasosa, Copperbelt province police commander, and Wildlife Authority regional warden Sydney Tembo confirmed the seizure from a truck on city streets.
“We have seized an assortment of game meat from a light truck that was abandoned in Luanshya,” Tembo said. He did not estimate the value of the game meat but said it was comprised of meat from both protected animals and other wildlife.
Kasosa said police have not yet made any arrests as the suspects are believed to have run away, but investigations have begun.
A double-barreled problem
There are two huge problems with this incident, which is repeated dozens of times a year across southern Africa. First of all, slaughtering endangered species, including monkeys, rhinos, antelope and less prominent mammals, such as badgers and even African wild dogs.
Along with habitat loss, the primary cause of the decimation of these species is illegal hunting and poaching, nearly always to procure meat and horns for sale to foreign brokers. In addition, the hunting and trapping of smaller rodents and mammals for sustenance deprives several avian species of their food sources. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, storks, cranes and even vultures native to southern Africa are considered threatened.
Hunting and poaching to sell off the meat only exacerbates a crisis already compounded by less of habitat and insufficient investment in preserves and parks that could reverse that trend.
More importantly, there is the problem of the deadly Ebola virus. According to the most recent warnings from the UN’s World Health Organization, the Ebola virus one of the vectors of the virus is the indiscriminate consumption of game meat, also known in the “trade” as bush meat.
One of the solutions to the problem of killing wildlife and selling bush meat on the black market is an obvious one: Develop modern methods of livestock production in those countries where poaching and illegal hunting tend to be concentrated. Without both an alternative source of income and an alternative source of food, too many indigent people in some of Africa’s poorest countries will still trap and shoot all kinds of wildlife, either to sell the meat/pelts/horns/tusks or to provide some sustenance for themselves and their families.