Every year, five to six million tons of wild meat are harvested in Central Africa to respond to increasing demand. Almost all animals, from the largest mammals to the smallest insects, are hunted, traded, and consumed.
"Culturally and economically, bushmeat is extremely important in Central Africa," explains Theodore Trefon, senior researcher at the Africa Museum, Belgium. "Bushmeat consumption provides vital income and nutrition for millions of people."
The growing demand for bushmeat also means the wildlife of Central Africa is being decimated, increasing the risk of rural food insecurity and of new infectious diseases emerging - as HIV, Ebola and Covid-19 have shown.
"But cultural attachment to bushmeat makes this crisis difficult to solve," says Trefon. "My book shows that management strategies by national governments and international NGOs to mitigate unsustainable hunting have been largely inefficient so far."
His book, similar to WCS’s ‘From the Forest to the Fork’ conceptual framework, calls for a new holistic approach to wild meat, exploring questions ranging from deforestation and conservation strategies to infectious diseases, hunting practices, consumption motivations, supply and demand dynamics, urban street food, and weak law enforcement capacity.
"In my book, I’ve tried to humanize the discourse on the 'bushmeat crisis' by looking at wildlife through local attitudes and behaviors, without taking sides or being judgmental," explains Trefon, for whom the heart of the problem lies mainly in the growing urban demand. "The city is like a huge open mouth, always hungry and never full, as the Congolese sociologist Brice Bionguet says."
Theodore Trefon takes an anthropological approach to the subject, through rich ethnographic investigation, a thorough review of literature and extensive interviews.
WCS relies on experts like Trefon to inform its strategies to address the bushmeat challenge.
Since 2019, WCS has designed and launched two behavior change campaigns aiming at reducing bushmeat consumptions in Pointe-Noire and Kinshasa, with national governments. Two more campaigns are planned in Ouesso and Brazzaville (Republic of Congo).
For more information about Bushmeat the book, visit: www.bushmeatafrica.com
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