By Juliet H. Wright, Nancy E. C. Priston
ABSTRACT: Bushmeat hunting has evolved into a large-scale commercial activity in western and
central Africa. Primates are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation and tend to be absent from heavily hunted areas. To reduce their rate of decline, human use of, and reliance on, bushmeat must be understood so that locally appropriate mitigation strategies can be developed. We address the social dimension of bushmeat hunting by revealing why people hunt, the techniques used, harvest composition, species preferences and the nature of human economic and nutritional reliance. Data were collected during May and June 2007 in Lebialem Division, Southwest Region, Cameroon. Ninety semi-structured interviews with hunters and trappers were conducted alongside participatory appraisal sessions in 6 rural communities. The main reason for harvesting bushmeat was income generation. Shotguns were the weapon of choice, enabling 74% of interviewees to hunt primates. A decrease in mammalian abundance was reported by 88%, motivating hunters to trek to protected areas outside of Lebialem. 64% sold more bushmeat than they consumed, with hunters selling a greater proportion than trappers, due to species composition. Fish was the principle source of animal protein consumed on a regular basis. Hunting and trapping were mainly secondary incomegenerating activities, but the flexibility of labour inputs and rates of return make them important livelihood components. To reduce financial reliance on bushmeat harvesting and the volume of species extracted, the development of economic alternatives and conservation education programmes should be given priority.
The Guineo-Congolian forests of western and central Africa are currently experiencing a ‘boom’ in bushmeat hunting (Barnes 2002). This traditional practice has evolved into a large-scale commercial activity due to rapid human population growth, socioeconomic change, infrastructure development and technological improvements (Bennett & Robinson 2000). A wide variety of terrestrial vertebrates are consumed as bushmeat, with ungulates, rodents and primates constituting the majority (Fa et al. 2005). Estimates for bushmeat consumption across the
Congo Basin range from in excess of 1 million t yr–1 (Wilkie & Carpenter 1999) to 4.9 million t yr–1 (Fa et al. 2002). More....