Tactical use of bush meat can help cut hunger, malnutrition

20Aug 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Tactical use of bush meat can help cut hunger, malnutrition

ENTHUSIASTS of roasted meat in open air spots are grinning with expectation after the government announced that it will be putting hippos on sale to reduce dangers to people living near rivers and lakes infested with the animals, along with a much smaller margin of crocodiles.

There was a sharp difference in the position of the government concerning the two animals, which appears to be strategic in nature as only ten per cent of crocodiles are to be placed on auction, while any hippos will be hunted.  It implies that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is protecting crocodiles but why not in the reserves?

If anything, it is crocodile hunting that would be fun to tourists as their skin is often valued, unless there are protective conventions in the CITES or other global accords, where crocodiles are listed in some auxiliary list as needing a minimum of protection.

But the local record in Tanzania for example is quite different, as it is rapidly becoming evident for elephants as well, that despite the global cry for the protection of this imposing beast, the level of destruction at the local level is rising. That means there needs to be a wider avenue to making some revenues or even bush meant use out of crocodiles as well.

One area which can help authorities put the bush meat to good use is directing the meat not to the market and dampen profits and productivity of livestock herders but to people needing assistance of public authorities in one form or another.

One such category is hospitalized people, another would be young people in schools who get a paltry meat diet if any, while the meat that would be offloaded to society could as well be targeted in a way to needy families. Some kind of labour exchange could as well be sought out in exchange for the meat, especially where the claimants are men to pay for likely misuse.

The problem that comes up is whether the ministry has a workable infrastructure to direct the bush meat bonanza for charitable purposes instead of simply whetting appetites and risking raising levels of blood pressure, diabetes etc owing to cheap roasted meat.

A slight or significant impact on the profit margin of livestock keepers would also be noticed, though this may have a positive aspect of easing access to meat for poor families. There is certain amount of complication in how the bush meat prospect is not just added to the market but put to more uses than markets, in case it can be arranged.

One possible modality is what is usually known as a public-private partnership, that organizations that are concerned with nutrition in assisted areas like hospitals, prisons, families receiving subsidies for instance the Social Action Trust Fund (SATF) and even public health facilities where lactating women report from time to time, can do the job.

They can work with an interested party that can carry out such hunting after obtaining a permit, and put up a modality for charitable disposal of at least a portion of animals they hunt.

This hasn’t so far been mooted but it would help to make better use of resources, as it would improve nutrition to an extent, and any extent is good to obviate deficits like stunted children.

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