Monday, October 17, 2011

Questions about the project

Over the course of our fundraising effort through Kickstarter, we have been asked a number of questions about the project, both in terms of the biological complexities of what we are attempting to do and the sociocultural connections of the project with the Ewe people. Here are the answers I've been giving.

I've read that antelope can simply be bought in local markets. Why raise them yourself? The goal of this project is not simply to raise antelope acquired in markets, which are only there because hunters captured them in the wild. Our goal is to BREED the antelope so that (a) the Dagbe Cultural Center has a sustainable supply of skins, and (b) the use of antelope skins for drums does not contribute to on-going hunting pressure on these species.

I've read that antelope can be raised like goats. So why all the fuss? Again, the goal is not simply to raise the animals but to breed them. The fact that some species of antelope can be domesticated and raised like known livestock is good news; it means that individual antelope can adapt well to captivity, do not have profoundly challenging needs, and are hearty in the face of human settlements. Our challenge is in capitalizing on these benefits to create a self-sustaining population.

Aren't antelope wildly different from other domesticated species? No. Antelope are in the same family (the taxonomic group above the genus) as sheep, goats, and cows.

Are antelope even edible? Yes. Like other closely related species such as sheep and goats, antelope are edible. This is why they are hunted and sold in markets, and is a large part of the reason their populations are declining in the wild.

Will raising the antelope take grain out of the mouths of people? The species we are targeting are browsers, normally feeding in the wild on leaves, bark, and fruit, typically not on food items that would otherwise be used by humans. While we are still researching which species it would be best for us to concentrate our efforts on, we are committed to not using a species whose rearing would compete with humans for food.

Could this project successfully solve the bushmeat crisis in Africa? Highly unlikely. The magnitude of that problem is so great that it is unlikely that even one strategy, let alone one initiative, will accomplish that. The primary goal for the project is to ensure a sustainable supply of antelope skins for the Dagbe Cultural Center and, by extension, to the Ewe people of the Volta Region in Ghana to promote the maintenance of a musical tradition. We believe the project can also contribute to reducing the demand on wild antelope if the techniques we learn for raising them can be shared and disseminated to other farmers and villages, but an ultimate solution to the bushmeat crisis will require much more than just this one effort.

Has anyone ever successfully bred antelope? Yes. Numerous zoos and a small number of wildlife centers in Africa have breeding colonies for a number of different species. We are in contact with a number of them, learning what we can about what species would be best for us to start with and what is known about how to be successful.

Other questions? If so, leave a comment, and I'll answer them as they come in.

No comments:

Post a Comment