Bushmeat in West and Central Africa
Unsustainable levels of hunting are believed to threaten the survival of many target species around the world, particularly in the tropics.
Bushmeat is the meat of wild animals hunted for income or subsistence. Due to increasingly unsustainable levels of hunting and trade, the harvest of wild meat has become a focus of global concern. This is particularly so in the tropical forests of West and Central Africa, leading to reports of a 'bushmeat crisis' in the region.
Extinctions resulting from this unsustainable level of hunting will not only threaten ecosystem services but are also likely to seriously impact upon the food security and livelihoods of those people who use this resource.
There is therefore an urgent need to develop successful initiatives that will promote the long-term sustainability of the bushmeat harvest - both to protect threatened biodiversity and to secure the trade’s social and economic values.
ZSL, through its Conservation Programmes department and the Insitute of Zoology's Bushmeat Research Programme , is involved in research to enhance our understanding of the bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa, with the aim that this heightened knowledge will assist both policy makers and project managers to develop effective methods of regulation and management for sustainability.
The work is interdisciplinary in its design: it tackles the biological, economic and social aspects of the trade, using a variety of approaches including field research and mathematical modelling.To view a summary of this research download ZSL Bushmeat Research Programme summary (English) (87 KB) or ZSL Bushmeat Research Programme summary (French) (143 KB)
A number of ZSL's conservation projects are now implementing the recommendations from this research, working with timber companies, protected area authorities and local communities to tackle the unsustainable bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa.
ZSL bushmeat-related projects
- Developing bushmeat alternatives: Equatorial Guinea
- Wildlife Wood Project: Ghana and Cameroon
- Management support to Virunga National Park: Democratic Republic of Congo
- Conservation of western lowland gorillas: Gabon
ZSL bushmeat meetings
ZSL has also convened a number of meetings to discuss bushmeat research, management and policy, in addition to currently acting as the Secretariat for the UK Bushmeat Working Group: