JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Illegal hunting of wildlife in some African states could lead to eradication of many species and ecological collapse across extensive areas, researchers said.
The report by Panthera, the Zoological Society of London and the Wildlife Conservation Society said Africa's iconic large carnivores such as cheetah, lion, leopard and wild dog are vulnerable either because they are caught in the bycatch from unselective methods such as snaring, or due to loss of their normal prey through illegal hunting for bushmeat.
At a meeting in Johannesburg last week, heads of wildlife agencies and conservation non-governmental organizations unanimously agreed on the urgency of tackling the practice of illegal bushmeat extraction, a Wildlife Conservation Society release said.
Many poor and marginalized communities depend on the contribution wildlife makes to their food security, and groups at the meeting called for support from the development community in helping to curb illegal hunting and bushmeat trade.
"There is an urgent need to search for viable solutions that will ensure the sustainable use of [the region's] world renowned wildlife resources while contributing to the development of poor rural communities," Rene Czudek of the South African Development Community said.
SADC member states represented at the workshop included Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.