Lacking adequate protein in their diet, refugees in Tanzania are eating chimpanzees and other endangered species, says a report
by the international wildlife conservation group TRAFFIC, a joint project of the World Wildlife Fund and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). “Relief agencies are turning a blind eye to the real cause of the poaching and illegal trade: a lack of meat protein in refugees’ rations,” said George Jambiya
, the lead author of the report, which urges humanitarian agencies to supply refugees with legal, sustainable wild meat.
In response to the report’s assertions, Christiane Berthiaume of the UN World Food Programme, which feeds 215,000 refugees in Tanzania, said that meat spoils quickly, and substituting canned meat for the cheaper beans that currently supply the refugees with protein would cost an additional $46 million over the estimated $60 million currently dedicated to feeding refugees in Tanzania during 2007 and 2008. An IUCN press release argues that not providing East African refugees with meat is inequitable, given the provision of corned beef to Croatians, Slovenians, and Serbians displaced during the early 1990s.
The decimation of the wildlife surrounding refugee camps is threatening local non-refugee communities that depend on wildlife for food and income. Smaller wildlife populations also make these areas less attractive to tourists, another source of income.