strange behaviors

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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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Posts Tagged ‘hunger’

To End Bushmeat Hunting, Let Them Eat Chickens

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 18, 2017

(Photo:Jeannie O’Brien/Flickr)

by Richard Conniff/The New York Times

The idea that the humble chicken could become a savior of wildlife will seem improbable to many environmentalists. We tend to equate poultry production with factory farms, downstream pollution and 50-piece McNugget buckets.

In much of the developing world, though, “a chicken in every pot” is the more pertinent image. It’s a tantalizing one for some conservationists because what’s in the pot there these days is mostly trapped, snared or hunted wildlife — also called bushmeat — from cane rats and brush-tailed porcupines to gorillas.

Hunting for dinner is of course what humans have always done, the juicier half of our hunter-gatherer origins. In many remote forests and fishing villages, moreover, it remains an essential part of the cultural identity. But modern weaponry, motor vehicles, commercial markets and booming human populations have pushed the bushmeat trade to literal overkill — an estimated 15 million animals a year taken in the Brazilian Amazon alone, 579 million animals a year in Central Africa, and onward in a mad race to empty forests and waterways everywhere.

A study last year identified bushmeat hunting as the primary threat pushing 301 mammal species worldwide toward extinction. The victims include bonobo apes, one of our closet living relatives, and Grauer’s gorillas, the world’s largest. (The latter have recently lost about 80 percent of their population, hunted down by mining camp crews with shotguns and AK-47s. Much of the mining is for a product integral to our cultural identities, a mineral used in

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Abundant Food for All (But No Burgers)

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 2, 2013

Probably not the answer to world hunger (Photo: Len Rizzi/Wikimedia Commons)

Probably not the answer to world hunger (Photo: Len Rizzi/Wikimedia Commons)

Some good news and bad, from the University of Minnesota.

Interesting that they are careful to avoid the word “vegetarian.”  Or much in the way of direct dietary recommendation.

But it sure sounds like we need to eat less red meat, not just to feed a growing human population, but to minimize reckless agricultural expansion into the remaining natural forestland.  Here’s the press release:

The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption, according to new research from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

Even a smaller, partial shift from crop-intensive livestock such as feedlot beef to food animals such as chicken or pork could increase agricultural efficiency and provide food for millions, the study says.

“We essentially have uncovered an astoundingly abundant supply of food for a hungry world, hidden in plain sight in the farmlands we already cultivate,” says graduate research assistant Emily Cassidy, lead author of the paper published in Environmental Research Letters. “Depending on the extent to which farmers and consumers are willing to change current practices, existing croplands could Read the rest of this entry »

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