People living in or on the edges of the world's great forests have always taken the protein offered by wild animals; thus the three African great ape species - chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas - are by long-standing cultural tradition eaten by many ethnic groups living in Central Africa's Congo Basin. Today, with modern human population growth, modern hunting technologies, and especially with the unprecedented opening of these forests via roads cut by European and Asian loggers, an exploding game meat (or "bushmeat") commerce into the big cities threatens the very existence of those three charismatic species. What until recently was a sustainable food practice has recently become catastrophically unsustainable. The author identifies some of the traditional logic in favor of using apes as a food source and describes three contemporary arguments against it: the practice threatens African biodiversity; challenges public health (among other things, the continuing potential for Ebola transmission or the creation of an aggressive new HIV strain); and it remains (since genetic analysis now clarifies that the apes are so very close to human) a matter of legitimate ethical concern.
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