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Commercial hunting to supply urban markets threatens mammalian biodiversity in Sapo National Park, Liberia

  • Elizabeth Greengrass (a1)

This survey was part of a situational analysis of bushmeat hunting and trade in Sapo National Park in south-east Liberia. Increased private-sector investment in natural resource extraction and industrial-scale agribusiness outside the Park is anticipated to increase hunting pressure and lead to further declines in biodiversity unless informed, assertive actions are taken to protect it more effectively. Two commercial hunting camps on the Park's southern boundary were surveyed for 1 month each. Information on the catch of all professional hunters in these camps was documented. The results revealed a high diversity of species but significant and probably unsustainable bushmeat extraction rates. Eighty-two chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus, including eight live infants, were recorded in the survey. Most of the bushmeat harvested was destined for Monrovia and other major towns. A concerted effort needs to be made to shut down these commercial camps but the potentially significant contribution that commercial trade makes to urban areas suggests that this can only be achieved if Liberia develops alternative sectors in domestic meat production to feed the growing urban population.

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