Eating Apes Essay

2036 words - 9 pages

“Is it right, in the deepest moral sense, for one conscious being to eat another?” Throughout Eating Apes, Dale Peterson takes the readers through what he experienced, saw, and the issues presented with trying to protect the apes to gear us to answer that question. He was able to do this with the stories of Karl Ammann, who took the photographs presented in the book, and Joseph Melloh, a gorilla hunter from Cameroon. Prior to taking this class, my knowledge of apes going extinct went as far as being aware that we needed to save them from extinction. However, I was unaware of neither how brutal apes were treated nor how pivotal they were to people in Central Africa’s diet – until I began reading Eating Apes. Eating Apes is a descriptive but difficult book to read through that describes why the ape population was diminishing and the various stakeholders involved.
Peterson wrote this book to illustrate and inform others of how humans were killing and eating apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos for food in Central Africa. He further tries to understand what was happening in Central Africa by interviewing ape hunters. These interviews helped him realize that hunting was not about hunger, but a choice. Hunters working with snares in the Central African Republic, could make anywhere between $400 and $700 a year, which are comparable to the wages earned by the national parks guards (115). In other words, hunters were making a reasonable sum of money by hunting that they continued to do it. While traveling through Central Africa, Peterson also took the time to explore the meat markets and soon found that chimpanzee and gorilla meat were sold at higher prices than beef or pork, because they were considered luxury items. Peterson’s journey in Central Africa also revealed major stakeholders such as the Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) and how they have ecologically and socially impacted the ape population. However, Peterson makes note that these issues with bush meat and protecting the apes are more complicated than expected.
With that being said, I think Peterson did a great job in telling the story and being explicit with the details of how apes are killed. As I began to read through the chapters, I realized that Peterson was not shy about the specific details of how hunters killed apes and what were done to the bodies after. For example, in chapter four, Peterson describes how they skinned and cooked apes, “All soft parts (including the brains) are quickest to spoil, and therefore will either be cooked and eaten on the spot or transported back to camp and consumed right away” (68). Peterson also discussed how they, “cut off the hands and feet (as typically the most desirable cuts of all)” (68). This was only the beginning of many explicit descriptions Peterson includes to emphasize how apes were killed or what happened to their bodies, but I think the details served to prove to the readers how little respected and valued...

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