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Aug 16, 2013

Sustainable Hunting

Work in West Africa to understand the supply chain for bushmeat 

Incentives for sustainable hunting in Rio Muni, Equatorial Guinea Bushmeat hunting is becoming increasingly unsustainable in west and central Africa, but management is constrained by poor understanding of the complex interactions between market, hunter and prey. This cross-disciplinary study provides one of the most complete, simultaneous evaluations of an entire bushmeat supply chain conducted to date, tracking the route of meat from the forest to the market.

During 17 months of fieldwork in continental Equatorial Guinea I collected and analysed an unparalleled quantity and variety of data, including mammal surveys, hunter follows, household surveys, hunter, trader, consumer and restaurant interviews, and hunter offtake and urban market surveys. At the urban level, people preferred fresh meat and fish, including bushmeat, but tended to consume cheaper frozen foods more often. Bushmeat consumption increased with income. In the village, men hunt for income because there are few other livelihood options. Trapping was preferred to gun-hunting due to lower costs and relatively high returns. However, as the availability and affordability of guns and cartridges increases, and trapping success decreases, hunters are switching to shooting arboreal prey.

Population densities of primate prey species were estimated in two sites with differing gun-hunting histories. Whereas some guenon monkeys were still numerous in the heavily hunted site, the absence of Colobus satanus suggests they are more vulnerable to hunting pressure. Extremely high densities of Colobus satanus were still found inside the park, suggesting it should be an urgent conservation priority.

Equatorial Guinea’s current oil boom is increasing urban wealth and subsequent demand for bushmeat. In the absence of alternative foods and rural livelihoods, and proper enforcement of protected areas, under current policies people will continue to hunt for the commercial bushmeat trade until many vulnerable species become at least locally extinct.

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