Eating Apes Is Cannibalism – Served by Loggers & NGO Supporters
A major and controversial new book, “Eating Apes” by Dale Peterson with Karl
Ammann, is a deeply troubling yet engaging book which examines the
slaughter, for food, of humanity's closest primate relatives. African bushmeat
hunting has skyrocketed – threatening gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos –
which given our shared evolutionary history, is akin to cannibalism.
As I am in final Ph.D. panic mode, I have not yet had the opportunity to read
the entire book. But a good skimming – particularly of the viscerally troubling
photographs of slaughtered primates – filled me with profound feelings of
sadness, and deep regret at the trajectory humans have chosen for ourselves,
our Planet and companion species. I will never forget pictures of “a severed
gorilla head, on a kitchen counter, wear(ing) the sad, glazed expression of a
betrayed friend. What looks at first like a leather driving glove, on a table amid
beer bottles, is a severed gorilla hand.”
Though such hunting has been practiced to various extents historically, more
recently European and Asian logging companies have carved new roads into the
forests, paving the way for hunters, traders and settlers. With foreign logging
providing infrastructure, a tenacious symbiosis between logging and hunting has
taken root and a thriving commercial enterprise in bushmeat has exploded.
Some of these loggers have been endorsed as “environmentally friendly” by
large mainstream environmental groups that support “certified” forestry that
industrially logs the World's last large, primary and old-growth forests.
The book is particularly critical of “sustainable logging” in such situations,
quoting and building upon past commentary presented here. The argument
that logging brings much-needed employment and development to Central
Africans is exposed as a falsehood. While “forest certification” sounds highly
progressive – it primarily benefits loggers and their corporate
environmentalists. There is no such thing as environmentally sustainable
commercial logging of primary forests.
Further, Amman questions the phenomenon of “feel-good conservation”,
whereby conservationists carry out token, fringe projects that they hail as
major successes, rather than addressing the root causes of deforestation and
species loss. As a result, systematic and widespread habitat loss continues
unabated while a false sense of forest conservation progress is marketed by
logging companies, governments and corporate NGOs.
We all want forest conservation success. But no good comes from denying the
reality of the situation – humans are eating their closest relatives, large forests
are disappearing forever, and the Earth shows signs of ecological collapse –
including water, oceans, atmosphere and land degradation. Conservationists
need to worry more about the root causes of ecological decline, and less about
building their PR based environmental empires. Get this book, read it (I plan to
soon, after done with dissertation), and work to end the bushmeat trade. Here
are two reviews of the book (the first much better) and information about how
to order a copy. I highly recommend it.