IntroductionAnimal bushmeat ethics is a contested topics due to differing views between the protectionists, animal rights activists and those that are completely against taking meat such as vegetarians. The ethical question in animal bushmeat consumption is argued on the basis of animal rights in which hunting animals in their natural habitation is viewed as a deprivation of the common animal rights that should be extended to the wild animals also because they are sentient beings. The methods used to hunt and kill/maim the wild animals has also been put in question ethically because the animals are subjected to suffering before they can be converted into human food. This essay will argue on the ethical aspects of animal bushmeat consumption to assess whether it is right or wrong to be allowed putting in mind the issue of animal rights and the need to protect the natural ecological systems.
Ethical Arguments on Bushmeat
In the food chain, human beings reign supreme which has given people the authority to choose and to actually be able to hunt wild animals for bushmeat. Eating bushmeat attract a considerable controversy as the practice is used to test the boundary normally in the cultural aspects of eating bushmeat, and the economic aspects of the communities that are involved in bushmeat trade. The difference in both schools of thoughts spawns a passion and conflict, hence, creating a dilemma on whether it is right to feed on bushmeat or protect our wild animals from animal related activities such as hunting which is one of the approaches used to acquire bushmeat. There is always a discussion on whether there would ever exist a peaceful and better sense community between animals and human beings. Vegetarians and protectionists who are of the opinion eating animals are unethical and cruel to the animal as it would lead to nature imbalance as well as the extinction of some animals.
Animals have rights similar to all animals even in the wild that bushmeat lovers deprive their hunt victims in the name of sport or a cultural practice. Based on the argument of animal rights according to Regan, animals in wild should be protected and given equal rights to life and a safe environment. Some African communities hunt and eat bush meat as a way of leaving and hunt these animals as a way of life, culture and recreational activity. The meat eating culture is largely entwined in the minds of many and people in some communities can rarely have a meal without meat. There is a heating debate on whether people should abandon their cultural aspects of eating bush meat to observe the animal rights as well as promote conservation efforts especially communities living near natural ecosystems.
One school of thought in regard to this matter is that human beings should not kill animals to get bushmeat because they have a right to life. However, most people use the human supremacy over the entire creation to argue against this stand. It's an argument maintained by the animal right movements, conservationists, and the vegetarians who major concern is protecting animals from harm caused by human beings. According to philosopher Peter Singer in his book "All animals are equal," the author explains that suffering and pain regardless to what or whom it is caused to should not be given a deaf ear as they form the basis to the human moral fabric (Peter 87). The proof of justifying such an act should be borne by the person who does it. Also Regan in his article "Utilitarianism, vegetarianism, and Animal Rights," adds to Singer ethical philosophy on the controversial debate regarding animal rights by stating that hunting and killing animals violates animals inherent right to life by treating them as a resource than living beings (Regan 308). Animal activists argue that the pleasure of feeding on animal bushmeat cannot be compared nor justified by taking the animal life or torturing it to death. Therefore, there is a significant philosophical evidence that animal bushmeat is wrong and violates the basic rights that should be accorded to the animals in the wild hunted for their fatty flesh.
Scientist such as Rolston also have a similar opinion by arguing that there is a moral and ecological problem linked with feeding on bushmeat. In his book, the scientist creates a scientific explanation on how hunting and use of bushmeat harm the species population and distorting the biotic community as well as the ecosystem (Rolston 72). The killing of animals such as dears and gazelle causes an imbalance in the ecosystem as the predators such as the Lions have less to feed on and some cases may die which disturbs a perfect healthy ecosystem. Not using bush meat balances ecosystem as well prevent some animals from being extinct. This scientific arguments supports the previous arguments based on the philosophy on animal rights on the adverse effects of hunting wild animals for their meat.
Contrary to the above debate, there is a school of thought that is of the opinion that bushmeat is part of our cultures and should not be abolished. According to BBC, African communities primarily in the west, east and south of Africa practice acting as a source of livelihood as well as well as the dominant social event for recreation purposes. Stopping such an activity would cripple the economy as well as norms and ethics of the community. Feeding on bushmeat is a method of controlling the over pollution (BBC). Historically speaking, predators have reduced for the last decade, and herbivores such as deer and gazelle have increased. To balance the increase so as they do not damage the biotic community hunting and to feed on them would be a bright idea.
Carol Adams support the notion of bushmeat in her book "The sexual politics of meat: A feminist-vegetarian critical theory" by emphasizing that human beings are created and objectified to see wild animals as prey. Carol argues that human beings are meant to feed on the animals because they are on top of the food chain (Carol 98). Those who feed on bush meat have accurate insight into the natural world and existence of human beings as a supreme being over other animals. The hunting process and killing of animals is part of our role in nature and it is embedded in our cultural practices. To lead as natural life means using what nature provides which in this case means bush meat as alternative is hard to find in tropics (Cawthorn 45).
The two school of thoughts have enough justification to believe in what they see best in regard to the ethical aspect of bush meat. However, the ethical aspect to be considered based on the utilitarian ethical theory should be based on the best outcomes such as what makes the environment better and ensure that animals in the wild are protected. The first opinion emphasis that feeding on bushmeat is non-ethical as it alters the natural balance as well as makes some animals extinct. It has been opposed by the second school of thought that argues bushmeat is a way of balancing the environment. They further state that feeding on the animals is natural and it's our genes and that how we were created. In my opinion, based on the utilitarian ethical theory I believe that the consumption of animal bushmeat is wrong and communities living near wildlife conservancies should be educated and sensitized on the importance of conservation.
Singer, Peter. "All animals are equal." Animal Rights. Routledge, 2017. 3-16.
Rolston, Holmes. Environmental ethics. Temple University Press, 2012.
Regan, Tom. "Utilitarianism, vegetarianism, and animal rights." Philosophy & Public Affairs (1980): 305-324.
Adams, Carol J. The sexual politics of meat: A feminist-vegetarian critical theory. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2015.
Inside Africa's biggest bushmeat market in Angola. 07 June 2016. https://www.bbc.com/news07 November 2018.
Cawthorn, D. and Hoffman, L. The bushmeat and food security nexus: A global account of the contributions, conundrums and ethical collisions. (2018).
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