Monday, November 21, 2011

Endangered Animals Fed To Starving Children

Research by Christopher Golden from UC Berkley states that in the Makira Protected Area in Madagascar (a hotspot), environmentalists were forced to compromise the conservation of their surrounding environment for the health of the African community.

Bushmeat, also known as the meat of terrestrial wild animals such as, lemurs and bats, was given to children living in the village. Many researchers found that if they limited any family's access to wildlife as a nutrient source, several of the children would end up suffering from severe cases of anemia and undernourishment. A total of 77 children, under the ages of 12, were participants in the experiment for a year. During this period they were tested for hemoglobin levels every month and scientists found that those who ate more bushmeat were the ones who were the ones with more iron-containing hemoglobin.

Nonetheless, though the health of the children improved, it got more complex. For one, feeding children bushmeat is not a form of sustainable hunting. Secondly, children cannot be given iron supplements to help with their anemia since it leads to a weakened immunity system by dropping levels of calcium and zinc. Golden and his researchers add that bushmeat may be the "food of the poor" since hunting is one of the only ways for people to get food. Unfortunately, the experiment raises the question of what will happen after the last lemur, for example, is eaten? Golden summarizes the answer as, "we need to find ways to benefit the local populations into our conservation policies, not hurt them." In other words, we cannot simply choose between the value of human life and the conservation of the environment--it's just too complicated.

Article by Brian Clark Howard

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