Policy and Law Division Sessions 1 & 2: The Conservation Relevancies of Wild Meat Harvesting  

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The 70th General Assembly of the CIC opened on Friday 19 April 2024, in Cascais, Portugal, with some 350 delegates attending from across the globe.

Held under the theme “Bridges to Biodiversity,” the conference sought to explore the organisation’s role as a convener, uniting diverse stakeholders in support of the 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) with the implementation of the 2030 Strategic Plan, which was adopted as part of proceedings.

Policy and Law Division Sessions 1 & 2: The Conservation Relevancies of Wild Meat Harvesting

This session explored the topic of wild meat through the lens of two distinct perspectives, highlighting its importance for wider society and discussing pertinent ongoing issues for the future.

Dr. Lauren Coad, CIFOR Bushmeat Initiative, gave a presentation on Hunting for Food in the Tropics: A Practice Let Down by Policy?

Wild meat is a key source of food in the global south, with an estimated 40% of rural households harvesting wild meat and almost all households consuming it at some point during the year. In central Africa, on average 18% of protein needs are met by wild meat (up to 100% in rural areas), the equivalent of 1.35 million tons of meat a year.

With this in mind, it was noted that unsustainable hunting is a key threat to biodiversity in the region. Giving Gabon as an example, she stated that many of the hunting practices there are entirely illegal despite the large majority of rural inhabitants hunting on a daily basis. This highlighted the incompatibility of national wildlife policies with the realities occurring on the ground.

Dr. Coad then referred to the work of a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) operated initiative – SWM Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme / Legal Hub – which aims to combat this issue. By analyzing, comparing and compiling national wildlife laws, the Legal Hub enables effective policy reform to support sustainable wild meat harvesting practices.

This was followed by a keynote address from Shane Mahoney, President of Conservation Visions (Wild Harvest Initiative) and President of CIC Policy and Law Division, who provided an in-depth look at the Wild Harvest Initiative, which was founded in 2015 through his organisation Conservation Visions.

He noted that the Initiative was created in response to a simple question: how many wild animals are killed and eaten throughout North America? By leveraging the fact that data is collected in a similar fashion in the region due to the shared North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the Wild Harvest Initiative has been able to unearth just what they sought out to do.

Since its establishment, Wild Harvest has also investigated the way in which people share their food with their Social Sharing Index, as well as the potential cost to replace wild food with industrially farmed alternatives.

The CIC joined the Wild Harvest Initiative as a partner in 2023, as did Jamma International, which operates in Africa. These partnerships and joint plans of action will help expand the Wild Harvest concept globally and gather more information on wild meat consumption.