MENTOR Group Photo 2008. Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

The MENTOR Signature Initiative (Mentoring for ENvironmental Training in Outreach and Resource conservation) brings together emerging African conservationists, through team training, to exchange ideas, learn about wildlife management, and identify ways to address key conservation threats.

The 2008 and 2009 USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program focused on the illegal bushmeat trade in Eastern Africa.  Together with the College of African Wildlife Management-Mweka, Tanzania, and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group, MENTOR built a team of eight Fellows from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda through an academic and field based program to address the commercial bushmeat trade.

The word "bushmeat" refers to wild animals that have been illegally killed for their meat, which is sold in local markets or to outside vendors.  The over-hunting of wildlife is unsustainable and poses a dire threat to species ranging from elephants, primates, antelopes, lizards, and more.

Out of the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program emerged the Bushmeat-free Eastern Africa Network (BEAN), an evolving interdisciplinary and multi-institutional network that works collaboratively on grassroots solutions to combat illegal bushmeat trade.  BEAN uses a holistic approach of promoting awareness and education, identifying alternative protein sources, developing economic alternatives, and increasing law enforcement through leveraging partnerships to address the bushmeat challenge.

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