Over the past century, the DRC has developed into the center of what has been called the Central African "bushmeat" problem, which is regarded by many as a major environmental, as well as, socio-economic crisis. refers to the meat of wild animals. It is typically obtained through trapping, usually with wire snares, or otherwise with shotguns or arms originally intended for use in the DRC's numerous military conflicts.
The "bushmeat crisis" emerged in the DRC mainly as a result of the poor living conditions of the Congolese people. A rising population combined with deplorable economic conditions forced many Congolese to become dependent on bushmeat, either as a means of acquiring income (hunting the meat and selling), or dependency on it for food. Unemployment and urbanization throughout Central Africa have exacerbated the problem further by turning cities like the urban sprawl of Kinshasa into the prime market for bushmeat.
This combination has caused not only widespread endangerment of local fauna, but has forced humans to trudge deeper into the wilderness in search of the desired animal meat. This overhunting results in the deaths of more animals and makes resources even more scarce for humans. The hunting has also been facilitated by the extensive logging prevalent throughout the Congo's rainforests (from corporate logging, in addition to farmers clearing out forest in order to create areas for agriculture), which allows hunters much easier access to previously unreachable jungle terrain, while simultaneously eroding away at the habitats of animals.
A case that has particularly alarmed conservationists is that of primates. The Congo is inhabited not only by two distinct species of chimpanzee – the Common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo (Pan paniscus) – but by the gorilla as well. It is the only country in the world in which bonobo are found in the wild. The two species of chimpanzees, along with gorillas, are the closest living evolutionary relatives to people. Much concern has been raised about Great ape extinction. Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, both of whose population once numbered in the millions have now dwindled down to only about 200,000 per species. Gorillas and both species of chimpanzee are classified as Endangered by the World Conservation Union, as well as the okapi, which is also native to the area.