Education:Conservation Issues: The Bushmeat Crisis

Where have the wild gorillas gone?

You might have heard that gorillas are disappearing at an alarming rate, in part due to hunting. Since people have always hunted animals for food, why is it a problem now?

Today hunters have guns, trucks, and roads, so people are able to kill many more animals than before. Our exploding human population, over six billion people, is making a greater and greater impact on animals and their habitats.

In Africa, wild animals killed for food are called bushmeat. A commercial bushmeat business is growing in central and western Africa as new logging roads allow hunters into previously remote regions. Many logging companies are irresponsible about following wildlife laws, allowing local hunters to use company trucks and roads to get the meat to market. This for-profit bushmeat business is wiping out endangered species like gorillas and other primates, elephants, and antelope species.

Gorillas on the menu

There are fewer than 100,000 western lowland gorillas in Africa. So many gorillas are being killed for meat every year, that in the time it takes our children to grow up, all the wild gorillas may be gone. If we want a world with wild gorillas, we have to act now.

What you can do

Africa is far away, but you can help slow the commercial bushmeat trade. Wood certification programs encourage logging companies in Africa to follow international wildlife laws. When you buy wood or furniture, ask the store whether the wood has been certified, and look for a well-managed or certification symbol on the label. This lets you know your purchase supports responsible logging, which helps to slow illegal bushmeat hunting.

The Zoological Society of San Diego has joined the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF) to help gorillas. Visit the BCTF online at to find out more about bushmeat and conservation.