Wild game is good. More wild game and fewer cattle, in some habitats, would better. But when wild game is extracted en masse from a wild area (usually a rain forest, usually in Africa) and shipped to a city, or an enclave of logger’s camps, or overseas to nostalgic African populations in Europe, it is no longer called wild game, or venison, or just food or meat.
It is called bushmeat, and bushmeat (in modern parlance) is bad.
Although illegal wildlife poaching is conducted worldwide, the impact in Africa has been devastating. Unsustainable commercial hunting for bushmeat will inevitably lead to species extinction. In turn, localized species extinction impacts the health of native ecosystems. Marketing of illegal bushmeat can also have serious ramifications because pathogens present in the meat may be transmitted, through ingestion, to the human population. The DNA barcoding technique implemented by High Tech High students will provide a useful tool for environmental impact studies by allowing scientists and environmental groups to trace illegal bushmeat back to its localized animal populations.
This is from a blok sit set up by high school students who recently traveled to Africa to fix the bushmeat problem. They didn’t get it completely fixed but we can hope that they made a dent.
In 2005, Jay Vavra of High Tech High in San Diego and Oliver Ryder of the San Diego Zoological Society collaborated to create a conservation forensics course, instructing HTH students on species identification via DNA barcoding. Students studied African bushmeat trade and focused on identification of simulated bushmeat samples, using jerky from a range of species for the process. Advanced studies included experimental methods of DNA extraction and amplification as well as alternative means of DNA preservation for shipment of DNA from Africa. The next step in the study is establishing partnerships and education programs at Mweka College and other sites by bringing students to East Africa to build this novel conservation education program in Africa and to disseminate instructional material in the United States.