Although our hunter-gatherer ancestors relied on an enormous array of animal species to fulfil their protein requirements, only a handful of these were subsequently domesticated, and cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens currently represent the main animals used for global meat production.
In spite of various attempts to improve the productivity of these traditional livestock species, this sector is facing immense pressure to meet the increasing demand for animal protein from a growing human population, and the future situation will likely only be aggravated by global warming, water shortages, and land restrictions for livestock production.
Various animals, such as goats, camels, yak, and water buffalo, have accompanied man for centuries, surviving in the harshest conditions and on sparse feed resources. Due to their outstanding adaptability, these species could become crucial for future food supply, as well as for socio–economic and environmental stability.
While subsistence hunting undoubtedly threatens wildlife populations throughout the world, there are many wild animals that are abundant and even considered as pests that could play a pivotal role in improving food security. Larger prolific species that could be further exploited for meat production include kangaroo, wild pigs, and deer while “mini-livestock” species (e.g., rabbits and rodents) hold particular promise for becoming valuable commercial commodities for food use.