“Banning wildlife hunting is not an option,” explained Fa. “People living in rural areas in the Congo Basin depend on wild meat for 60–70% of their meals, where it’s often their only source of protein. Wild meat makes up only 2% of meals in towns cities, but given the size of urban populations, this amounts to millions of tons of wild animals being extracted from forests.”
Research in 2011 by Nasi and CIFOR-ICRAF Associate Nathalie van Vliet found the estimated yearly extraction rate of wild meat in the Congo Basin to be a whopping 4.5 million tons. “To replace this source of protein and nutrients with, for example, locally produced beef, an area as large as 25 million hectares would have to be converted to pasture,” said van Vliet.
Van Vliet has led SWM Programme activities in Guyana’s Rupununi Savannah since 2018, in partnership with the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, with promising outcomes for Indigenous communities and women. That work is the subject of an upcoming story on Forests News.
Conservation is important for biodiversity and food security in the Rupununi Region of Guyana. ©FAO/David Mansell-Moullin
Throughout all 15 project countries, the SWM Programme takes a community-based approach that combines “community rules with modern tools”, aiming to ensure all interactions with communities are underpinned by free, prior and informed consent. By diversifying their livelihood options, the SWM Programme aims to foster more sustainable levels of hunting. This means better management of wildlife hunting and, where it makes sense for local tastes, farming animals and fish.
“Wildlife is a shared resource,” said Nasi. “It should be managed by local communities and their chosen partners in a way that preserves traditional livelihoods and culture as well as biodiversity.”