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Bushmeat in Gabon

The National Strategy for Bushmeat Management in Gabon From 2000 to the present, the Gabonese government, through the Wildlife Department of the Ministry of Wildlife and Forests (Ministère des Eaux et Forêts) has been developing a National Strategy for Bushmeat Management. This process, originally supported as part of a regional initiative by the FAO, has involved both extensive discussions on policy and revision of the legislation in force and also support and coordination of a broad suite of research projects, some carried out by independent researchers and most involving DFC staff. The twin aims of the National Strategy for Bushmeat Management are: to safeguard food and economic security for those people reliant on bushmeat for their livelihoods, until alternatives are available, to ensure protection of viable wildlife populations for the future The two are inextricably linked, as without the long-term local survival of wildlife, there is no possibility of reliance on the resource, for either food or economic security. It is possible for some wildlife species to persist within an impoverished faunal community, and still provide enough meat for rural populations. Whilst this may be acceptable in some areas, it is not a desirable national outcome. The hope is that the national management strategy can enable both the survival of representative intact wildlife communities in some areas free of hunting, along with sustainable local use of the bushmeat resource elsewhere, whilst still safeguarding these wildlife communities as well as possible through catch limits and protection for vulnerable species. The following two pages give a schematic overview of the decisions taken to arrive at the need for development of a National Strategy (First decision tree) and the definition of the objectives of this Strategy (Second decision tree). Once the general framework of the Strategy was outlined, field research was carried out to clarify the current situation on the ground and develop a Strategy that can take into account the status quo and develop reasonable short term (dealing with the current situation), medium term (working towards alternative rural opportunities, urban education and species protection) and long term (sustainable harvests with labelled, legal product) goals. This remainder of the document synthesizes the research results of studies of bushmeat use in Gabon over the last decade. The majority of these studies were carried out in association with the Wildlife Department (Direction de la Faune) of the Ministry of Water and Forests. The bulk of the work is already published as doctoral or Masters degrees and some is published in the scientific literature, but the majority is available only in English. The original works, methods and analyses are made available through links and annexes whilst the report text concentrates on clear presentation of the main results.