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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Using Chicken Coops to Replace Bushmeat

Posted by Richard Conniff on December 28, 2011

The New York Times has a report on the nuances of the trade in monkeys and other bushmeat, a threat to wildlife everywhere.  It raises the interesting possibility that making chickens widely available would provide people with an alternative way to feed their families.

I have always been a little suspicious of Heifer International, because the idea of providing environmentally demanding cattle to poor families just seemed like a way to increase the destruction of habitat.  But chickens get around that objection.

Here’s the relevant part of the Times article:

Fortunately, rare species did not seem to be priced any higher than common ones. For example, primates fetched about the same price as brush-tailed porcupines, which are more common.

This is good news for conservation, since it suggests that people could be steered away from the rarer animals and encouraged to focus on common species.

The researchers suspect that alternative protein sources, like poultry or livestock, are missing from villagers’ menus simply because they are not available. “There’s no tradition of keeping livestock,” Dr. Foerster said. “Perhaps one approach could be making certain species of livestock more available and widespread.”

Other studies found that Central Africans usually rank chicken similarly to their favorite bush meat varieties, so the potential may exist for alleviating pressure on wild species by introducing poultry farming.


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