Terrestrial wildlife is the primary source of meat for hundreds of millions of people throughout the developing world. Despite widespread human reliance on wildlife for food, the impact of wildlife depletion on human health remains poorly understood. This paper looks at a cohort of 77 preadolescent children (under 12 years of age) in rural northeastern Madagascar and shows that consuming more wildlife was associated with significantly higher hemoglobin concentrations. The research demonstrates that removing access to wildlife would induce a 29% increase in the numbers of children suffering from anemia and a tripling of anemia cases among children in the poorest households. The well-known progression from anemia to future disease demonstrates the powerful and far-reaching effects of lost wildlife access on a variety of human health outcomes, including cognitive, motor, and physical deficits. The research quantifies costs of reduced access to wildlife for a rural community in Madagascar and illuminates pathways that may broadly link reduced natural resource access to declines in childhood health.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences