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Keywords:

  • bushmeat;
  • tropical forest;
  • defaunation

Tropical forests are among the most species-rich ecosystems on the planet. Some authors argue that predictions of a tropical forest extinction crisis based on analyses of deforestation rates are overly pessimistic since they do not take account of future agricultural abandonment as a result of rural–urban migration and subsequent secondary regrowth. Even if such regrowth occurs, it is crucial to consider threats to species that are not directly correlated with area of forest cover. Hunting is an insidious but significant driver of tropical forest defaunation, risking cascading changes in forest plant and animal composition. Ineffective legislation and enforcement along with a failure of decision makers to address the threats of hunting is fanning the fire of a tropical forest extinction crisis. If tropical forest ecosystems are to survive, the threat of unsustainable hunting must be adequately addressed now.