The Expanding African Bush Meat Trade
Today the visitor to many Central African cities like Kinshasa (Zaire-now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Brazzaville
(Congo), Ouesso (Congo), Bangui (Central African Republic), Libreville (Gabon), and Yaoundè (Cameroon) can
purchase the meat of virtually any forest animal, endangered or not, whether it be gorilla, chimpanzee, monkey,
pangolin, duiker, antelope, forest cat, crocodile, flying fox, eagle, monitor lizard, elephant, turtle, hippo,
snake, or civet. Demand for bush meat is driven by the desire for protein, not necessarily the animal source of
the protein -- the popularity for which varies from market to market. In Gabon, McRae reports that annual per capita
consumption of bush meat may reach eight pounds annually.
The expanding urban and rural demand for bush meat is driven by robust population growth in these sub-Sahara countries.
The availability of bush meat is made possible by the logging industry whose road construction opens stretches
of rainforest to hunters and settlers. Villages sprout up regularly and the population of established villages
Hunters can subsist selling bushmeat is passing loggers, traders, and local villagers. According to McRae (1997),
a smoked gorilla can fetch about US$40 for the hunters, a chimp, US$20, and a monkey, US$5. The majority of bushmeat
reaches market on the logging trucks, returning to cities with their freshly cut timber. The International Primate
Protection League estimates that 400-600 gorillas are killed each year in Congo alone by poachers, many of whom
follow logging roads deep into the forest interior.
The trade continues to prosper despite the 1996 Bertoua (Cameroon) Conference agreement to crack down in
on "bushmeat" organized by the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The conference
sought to bring all parties (logging, governmental, local, conservation) together to discuss the issue. Among the
things accomplished by the conference was limiting of the production of chevrotine cartridges, shotgun shells used
for hunting large, protected game.
As more logging roads open up the most remote African rainforests, regional bush meat hunting will expand
as the trees continue to fall. Unfortunately the trade of bush meat will continue to flourish until hunters are
provided with another viable option to make a living.
Article on bushmeat in Indonesia
The Congo Rainforest
Continued: Economic Restructuring
Other pages in this section:
Selection of information sources