Bushmeat Research Programme
The Bushmeat Research Programme at the Institute of Zoology is involved in research to enhance our understanding of the bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa.
Bushmeat is the meat of wild animals hunted by local people for income or subsistence in West and Central Africa. The harvest of wild meat is a focus of global concern. Unsustainable levels of hunting are believed to threaten the survival of many target species around the world, particularly in the Tropics. These extinctions 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.
The Bushmeat Research Programme at the Institute of Zoology is involved in research to enhance our understanding of the bushmeat trade in West and Central Africa. A better understanding of the trade will assist both policy makers and project managers to develop effective methods of regulation and management for sustainability. This 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.
There are a range of projects in the Programme, which are described here. This work encompasses several countries in the region (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone), and involves collaboration with a variety of institutions in both the host countries and in the UK. Our UK collaborators include colleagues at Cambridge University, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), Imperial College London, University College London (UCL), and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Oxford University). This work has received funding from several sources including Conservation International, the Darwin Initiative, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The Bushmeat Research Programme is one component of ZSL’s overall bushmeat work
. Through a combination of field projects, applied research, policy work, and education activities, this programme aims to protect habitats and wildlife through the management of the bushmeat trade to achieve long-term sustainability. To view a summary of the Bushmeat Research Programme at the Institute of Zoology download ZSL Bushmeat Research Programme summary (English) (87 KB) or ZSL Bushmeat Research Programme summary (French) (143 KB)
Reviews, Commentaries, and Opinion Pieces
- Cowlishaw G (2003) A dish to die for: a review of Dale Petersen’s "Eating Apes". Nature 424: 131.
- Davies G (2002) Bushmeat and international development. Conservation Biology 16: 587-589.
- Ling S, Kümpel N & Albrechtsen L (2002) No new recipes for bushmeat. Oryx 36: 330.
- Milner-Gulland EJ, Bennett EL & the SCB Wild Meat Group (2003) Wild meat – the bigger picture. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 351-357.
- Rowcliffe JM (2002) Bushmeat and the biology of conservation. Oryx 36: 331.
- Rowcliffe JM, Milner-Gulland EJ & Cowlishaw G (2005) Do bushmeat consumers have other fish to fry? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20: 274-276.
The Bushmeat Research Programme in the Scientific Press
- Bushmeat on the menu, Science News, Feb 2005 (Milius, vol. 167, p. 138-140)
- Equatorial quandry, Environment, Dec 2005 (vol. 46, p. 6-7)
- Editorial, Save the people and the animals will save themselves, New Scientist, Dec 2004 (Webb, 11 Dec, p. 3)
- No bonobos to be seen in the wild, New Scientist, Dec 2004 (Graham-Rowe, 11 Dec, p.6-7)
- The traits that make different primate species vulnerable, Conservation in Practice, Fall 2004 (Meadows, vol. 5, no. 4, p. 6-7)
- The law of the jungle, Nature, Jan 2003 (Whitfield, vol. 421, p. 8-9)
Other wildlife harvesting projects at IoZ
The Institute of Zoology is also involved in a variety of other projects related to the harvesting of threatened species and the development of effective conservation measures to combat overexploitation. This work incorporates not only species hunted for food, but also many species exploited for luxury goods, traditional medicine, and live trapping for biomedical research and the pet trade. Much of this work involves collaborators across several different institutions, and is funded from a variety of sources.
One aspect of this work is concerned with the identification of those factors that make some animal species more vulnerable to extinction from overhunting than others. This work is being conducted across a variety of taxa, including island endemic birds (by JEM Baillie and GM Mace), all birds (PM Bennett, IPF Owens), fish (E Hudson, GM Mace) and primates (G Cowlishaw, N Isaac). Another aspect of our work involves modelling approaches, including theoretical explorations of compensatory mortality in exploited populations (JM Rowcliffe) and the use of Population Viability Analysis to advise on the management of hunted goose populations (JM Rowcliffe, RA Pettifor). Finally, we are also involved in detailed case studies of specific species threatened with extinction from overhunting. These include chameleons (A Carpenter, JM Rowcliffe) and radiated tortoises (SH O’Brien, GM Mace) in Madagascar.
The Institute of Zoology is also actively involved in the dissemination of research findings in this area. This is reflected most recently in the publication of "The Conservation of Exploited Species" by Cambridge University Press (in conjunction with the Zoological Society of London, in October 2001), edited by John Reynolds, Georgina Mace, John Robinson and Kent Redford. This book is based on a 1999 conference hosted by the Institute of Zoology and co-funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
- Bushmeat Crisis Task Force
- Bushmeat Trade POSTnote, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
- Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
- Conservation International
- Conservation Science Group, Imperial College
- Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Human Ecology Research Group, University College London
- ODI Wild Meat, Livelihoods Security and Conservation in the Tropics
- UK Tropical Forest Forum Bushmeat Working Group
- WCS Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program
- Wildlife Conservation Research Unit
- ZSL Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Programme