cess to a gun, he may shoot crop-raiders. In areas where gorilla- meat is eaten, this has the double benefit of not only protecting the family’s supply of bananas (or revenue from sales of same) but also providing up to 200 kg of meat that can be eaten fresh or smoked and shared or sold (see box). The protein gained is often seen as a form of natural compensation for loss of crops.
Problem animal control as a cause of death is likely to increase in areas where gorilla habitat is being converted to agriculture, but has been happening for a long time. Swidden agriculture (also known as shifting cultivation or slash and burn, where a patch is cleared, farmed for a few years and then left to revert to forest) has been practiced for millennia in central Africa. At low human population densities, and with a long enough rotation cycle, the resulting mosaic of primary forest, farmed clearings,
The poaching of apes to supply meat to town markets is becom- ing more common throughout the African great ape range. Al- though there has been no systematic research to measure this increase for multiple species or even to evaluate the quantity of ape bushmeat throughout the range of a single species; never- theless, a collection of anecdotes and case-studies below from D.R. Congo give a sense of the pervasiveness and seriousness of this trend.
A couple of weeks ago we heard from Ashley Vosper who is car- rying out large mammal inventories in the Maringa Lopori land- scape (Equateur Province). He was struck that the forest was eerily empty of large fauna, but still had a good bonobo (Pan paniscus) population. His question, “Is this because of hunting taboos? If so, how much longer will they last?” An unfortunate example was a bit further east.
Lingomo Bongoli from the village of Iyondje had worked with the Japanese researcher, Daji Kimura studying bonobo before the war. On his own, during the decade of war he gathered informa- tion about a taboo that his people, the Bongando, had on eating bonobo. This tabu was lost through the influence of successive bands of army and militia who killed and ate bonobo.
Further east still, in the TL2 landscape, there is a flourishing bushmeat trade along the only routes leading east to the town of Kindu (Maniema Province) on the banks of the Congo River (www.bonoboincongo.com). Extrapolating from three months
fallow land with dense herbaceous growth, and recolonised patches of secondary forest, together make for a bio-diverse landscape that can support a healthy population of gorillas. In the past, the losses inflicted when gorillas came across such crops and helped themselves may have been balanced by the resulting high-quality foraging opportunities. Now that more people are competing for land, permanent settlements are in- creasingly common and gorillas are more likely to be extirpated by farmers defending their crops. This is particularly a threat to Cross River Gorillas during the dry season (November to March in Okwango, Cross River National Park, Nigeria) when they emerge from the forest to feed on banana and plantain (Norberg, 2009), and to western lowland gorillas in Bas Congo, DRC, also during the dry season (May to October here), when they forage in fields along the forest edge (Redmond, 2006).
of checkpoint observations of bushmeat 76,000 animals per year were being brought to Kindu, most dried and smoked and packed in on bicycles at over 50 kg per bike. This was extracted from about 6000 km2 of forest and would add over 225 bonobo carcasses per year to the Kindu meat market. This is not sustain- able for bonobos or any of the other large forest mammals being hunted.
Across the Congo River bonobo range is replaced by chimpanzee range. A multi-year study in the northern DR Congo by Thurston Hicks et al. (submitted to African Primates 2010) documents the breakdown of taboos on eating chimpanzee meat. With expan- sion of the informal mining sector (mainly gold and diamonds) bushmeat hunting and the killing of chimpanzees to sell as mar- ket meat in mining villages has pushed chimpanzee orphans onto the market. Over 18 months, Hicks and his colleagues re- corded 42 orphans being held as pets or up for sale.
After a loss of taboo, the main cause of decrease in ape bush- meat is a decrease in ape population until it is too low to hunt profitably and probably too small to be viable. This is the case over large areas of bonobo range forest south of Kisangani and in northern Kasai Orientale and southern Equateur Provinces. The most likely ways to have an impact is large scale education of the protected status of great apes, thus trying to replace taboo with law. Some form of enforcement is needed to give this any lasting impact. Also a strengthening of protected area borders is essen- tial. This also requires enforcement.