The Production and Marketing of Bush-Meat

Bush-meat is valued throughout the West African region as a source of cash income and food. Wild animals are hunted for the consumer market by professional hunters (full-time), agriculturalists (part-time) and pygmies. In areas with access to urban markets, bush-meat is now often sold rather than being consumed.

Hunting and gathering of bush-meat often complement seasonal requirements for agricultural labour. Hunting for bush-meat is a predominantly male activity. However, the collection of bush-meat such as snails and insects is carried out by both men and women. Women are generally responsible for processing bush-meat (i.e. smoking).

Many of the studies that are available examine the importance of bushmeat production at the national level, but no studies have been conducted on the socio-economic importance of bush-meat trade for rural communities.

Few studies have examined quantities hunted by individuals, or the income earned from the sale of bush-meat. In addition, there is very little information on the income that is earned from the trade of bush-meat or the marketing costs involved.

Therefore, while there is enough information from market studies to indicate that bush-meat is a popular and widely consumed forest product, there is little information available to assess its income-earning value and potential.

Bush-meat markets

The greatest amount of research on the markets for bushmeat has been carried out in Ghana and Nigeria. In Nigeria the demand for bushmeat is increasing (an increase of 159% since 1975 (Mba 1983)). It has been estimated that the value of bushmeat to the economy is 3.6 billion naira annually (Martin 1983) (see also Holsworth 1970, Section 6.7). This is reflected by the inflating prices: in urban markets bushmeat prices have risen by as much as 400% in recent years (Federal Department of Forestry 1987).

Table 3 summarises available information on bushmeat market prices in different West African urban centers. In most cases the prices of bushmeat are higher than domestic meat prices.

These prices are partly attributable to transportation and processing (when smoked) costs, which can add 25% to 50% to the original producer price (Ajayi 1979). However, high prices for bushmeat are primarily due to increasing consumer demands and dwindling supplies.

In 1965, Asibey analysed Ghana’s market and market price trends for bushmeat from 1956 to 1963. He found that prices had increased 25% in seven years. Since that time the Department of Game and Wildlife has conducted bushmeat market studies.

The volume of bushmeat trade at one Accra market (Kantamanto) has been recorded for the last 15 years (see Table 3). An average 14,400 animals are sold annually (71,000 kgs. of bushmeat worth 2,900,000 cedis). As trade is not recorded every day these figures are minimal estimates.

However, they do give an indication of the magnitude of trade. Grasscutter and duiker are the types of bushmeat that are most commonly sold in this market; in 1985, 9,400 of the 11,900 animals sold were grasscutters (Asibey 1987, Ntiamoa-Baidu 1987).

In Nigeria, Martin (1983) found that the prices for bushmeat had increased by about 25% over two years in the late 1970’s (the price of domestic meat increased by 20%), and grasscutter prices inflated by 75% during the same period. More recently, Asibey (1986, 1987) analyzed the market price trends for bushmeat in Kumasi and Accra markets (see Table 4).

He found that the bushmeat prices had increased at far greater rates than domestic meat prices; the price of grasscutter had increased from an average 84 cedis/kg. in 1980 to and average 685 cedis/kg. in 1986. In comparison, beef prices had risen from 41 cedis/kg. to 272 cedis/kg. over the same period.

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Table 3: Market prices of meat in some West African countries

(US $/Kg)(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)
Hare (Lepus ssp.)3.757.2     
African giant rat
(Crycetomys gambianus)
 5.0 0.512.33  
Grasscutter
(Thryonomus swinderianus)
 9.63.331.063.9610.001.00
Brushtailed porcupine
(Atherorus africanus)
4.30 3.661.063.04 2.50
Tree Hyrax
(Dendrohyrax arboreus)
 6.4  3.66  
Grey duiker
(Sylvicapra grimmia)
 6.8 0.88  4.00
Maxwell’s duiker
(Cephalophus maxwelli)
  2.83 3.75  
Bay duiker
(Cephalophus dorsalis)
2.50  0.862.70  
Black duiker
(Cephalophus niger)
 5.2 0.792.91  
Bushbuck
(Tragelophus scriptus)
 5.21.33 3.07 2.50
Bushpig
(Potamochoerus porcus)
  3.33 3.26 2.50
Spot-nosed monkey
(Cercopithecus ascenius)
     3.472.50
Red colobus
(Colobus badius)
3.75     3.00
Civets
(Mandinia spp.)
1.88    3.35 
Beef2.504.2 0.45 3.002.50
Mutton3.502.8 0.61 6.004.00
(1) Cameroon, Sabouang, 1978(5) Ghana, Accra, 1985
(2) Nigeria, Ibadan, 1975(6) Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, 1978
(3) Nigeria, Bendel State, 1977(7) Liberia, Monrovia, 1979
(4) Ghana, Accra, 1970 

Source: Asibey 1986

Table 4: Bushmeat recorded for Kantamanto Market (Accra, Ghana)

July 1970 to December 1985 excluding July to December 1984

YEARNUMBERWEIGHT (kg)VALUE (cedis)
July 1970/71 June21,249105,002.7114,124.22
1971/7215,64073,364.587,477.48
1972/7314,84767,720.9106,881.31
1973/7417,794 147,861.91
1974/7520,536 197,891.69
1975/7616,612 264,869.80
1976/7713,403 305,417.68
1977/7816,625 620,645.74
1978/7914,363 1,205,624.00
1979/8010,703 1,338,857.00
1980/8116,948 3,661,688.00
1981/8214,319 5,312,492.00
1982/8318,443 8,520,381.00
July-Dec. 19838,628 6,300,420.00
1984 (Jan.-June)9,667 10,060,435.00
198511,900 12,098,701.00
Total230,967 46,682,079.00
Average14,435 2,917,629.90

Source: Asibey 1987

Table 5: Urban consumer prices for some meat in Ghana

 BeefMuttonBushmeat
 KumasiAccraKumasiAccraKumasiAccra
198022.0940.0823.09NA78.1583.95
198152.5147.8452.83NA81.90114.00
198285.5183.6488.5787.5648.56180.48
1983165.00135.75150.91150.33125.73373.68
1984234.17239.00234.17252.67223.71453.08
1985283.94276.53305.00453.15299.98510.61
1986270.41271.87260.04255.96349.45684.64
In Cedis/Kg.

Source: Asibey 1987 a

In southwestern Cameroon, in the Mudemba market, the price of bushmeat has increased 117% in the last four years (Gartlan 1987). And in Mbandjok, Cameroon, Barbier and Tissandier (1980) studied the trade value of products sold in the market by day. They found that 3050 FCFA worth of termites were sold on one day in March 1971 (13% of the total (24,100) amount of meat, fish, and eggs sold).

Bush-meat

Although the most important bushmeat markets are in urban centers, several authors note that there is also a rural market for bushmeat. Martin (1983) found that rural people spent an average 8.75 naira/month on bushmeat compared to an average 10.49 naira/month spent by urban consumers in Nigeria. Martin (1983) conducted an interesting market study in Bendel State in southeastern Nigeria.

He found that duikers, grasscutters and brush-tailed porcupine were the most common species being sold at roadsides. The sale of snails was also widespread. He noted that snail, porcupine and grasscutter fetched the highest market prices (of all meats) per kilogram while grasscutter was most preferred and most often sold. However, the extent to which people purchase bushmeat often varies considerably by household and community (Dietworst 1987).

Related: Factors that affect African Land Snails Survival

Production of bushmeat for cash income

Bushmeat production and marketing provide employment and income to a large number of rural people. Meat is sold fresh and smoked. Bushmeat is often sold to village collectors (wholesale traders) who in turn, sell the produce to urban retail traders. Sometimes, however, bushmeat is sold directly by the producers at the roadside or to roadside sellers (Ajayi 1979).

For many women in Ghana the bushmeat trade is the main source of livelihood (Ntiamoa-Baidu 1987). The hunting also provides an important source of supplemental income for many farmers (see Asibey 1977, Ghana; Faure and Vivien 1980, Cameroon; Blanc-Pamard 1979, Côte d’Ivoire). In an interview with a farmer/hunter Asibey (1987b) relates that the farmer earned more income from bushmeat trade than from farming endeavors (maintaining the interests in farming because it was more secure and provided a greater variety of needed products).

Similarity in Nigeria, Asibey (1987) asserts that hunting provides a good source of income. He estimates that sales of 4 grasscutters and 3 duikers a month would place a hunter in the lower middle income group ($130-660/year).

Adeola and Decker (1987) conducted an interesting study on the quantities of bushmeat produced by farmers and hunters in different ecological zones in Nigeria during the 1986 rainy season. The animals farmers most commonly harvested in the rainforest region were snails, squirrels, giant rats, guinea fowl, bats, cane rats, porcupine and duikers (in that order). In deciduous forest regions greater numbers of cane rats, bats, guinea fowl and snails were harvested.

They estimated that the monthly harvest of bushmeat by farmers in the rainforest region was 61 million kilogrammes (61 kg./farmer), 318 million kilogrammes for big game. These figures are however misleading as small game were harvested in far greater numbers: 37 animals per farmer compared with 6 large animals per farmer (see Tables 5 and 6).

They estimated harvest in the savannah region to be approximately 105 million kgs. It is interesting to note that farmers harvested substantial quantities of bushmeat when compared with professional hunters.

African buffalo

Table 6: Monthly wildlife harvest by Nigerian hunters in the deciduous and rain forest regions

 Deciduous Forest RegionRain Forest Region
 Number/HunterKg per HunterNumber/HunterKg per Hunter
BIG GAME
Duikers
(Cephalophus monticola,
C. Grimmia)
3.0620.052.8018.76
Bush Buck
(Tragelaphus scriptus)
0.545.943.1434.54
Buffalo
(Syncerus caffer)
0.000.000.1458.80
Est. Mon. Harvest/Hunter 1/5.1462.446.74141.80
SMALL GAME
Squirrels
(Funisciurus anerythrus,
Xerus erythropus)
0.570.2920.5410.27
Cane rat
(Thryonomys swinderianus)
5.4021.607.9431.76
African giant rat
(Crycetomys gambianus)
7.0614.1210.3420.68
Porcupine
(Hystrix cristata)
1.807.203.7414.96
Bats
(Eidolon helvum)
0.000.0011.203.36
Est. Mon. Harvest/Hunter 1/15.1143.5659.3688.03
GAME BIRDS
Guinea fowl
(Numida meleagris)
0.940.331.360.44
Francolin
(Francolinus spp.)
4.341.522.941.03
Est. Mon. Harvest/Hunter27.401.8512.221.47
REPTILES/MOLLUSKS
Monitor lizard
(Varanus niloticus)
0.34 3.0 
Tortoise
(Kinixys belliana)
0.34 3.0 
Giant snail
(Archachatina marginata)
1.06 27.2 

1/ Estimated Monthly Harvest per Farmer surveyed
Survey from July to November rainy season 1986
Source: Adeola and Decker 1987

Table 7: Monthly wildlife harvest by Nigerian farmers in the deciduous and rain forest regions

 Deciduous Forest RegionRain Forest Region
 Number/FarmerKg per FarmerNumber/FarmerKg per Farmer
BIG GAME
Duikers
(Cephalophus monticola,
C. Grimmia)
3.5623.852.8419.03
Bush Buck
(Tragelaphus scriptus)
1.3314.631.7719.47
Buffalo
(Syncerus caffer)
0.2188.200.24100.80
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmer 1/6.41 6.63 
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmers (Region) 1/120,571,937 kg 318,351,758 kg 
SMALL GAME
Squirrels
(Funisciurus anerythrus,
Xerus erythropus)
10.695.3512.986.49
Cane rat
(Thryonomys swinderianus)
7.9731.884.7318.92
African giant rat
(Crycetomys gambianus)
8.8317,668.5317.06
Porcupine
(Hystrix cristata)
4.1116.443.9015.60
Bats
(Eidolon helvum)
10.133.045.531.66
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmer 1/44.0443.5637.5588.03
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmers (Region) 1/55,407,500 kg 61,863,643 kg 
GAME BIRDS
Guinea fowl
(Numida meleagris)
17.906.267.822.74
Francolin
(Francolinus spp.)
9.503.324.401.54
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmer 1/27.40 12.22 
Est. Mon. Harvest/Farmers (Region) 1/6,941,319 k g 4,312,106 kg 
REPTILES/MOLLUSKS
Monitor Lizard
(Varanus niloticus)
2.38 2.40 
Tortoise
(Kinixys belliana)
1.52 0.86 
Giant snail
(Archachatina marginata)
36.54 17.16 

1/ Estimated Monthly Harvest per Farmer surveyed
Survey from July to November rainy season 1986
Source: Adeola and Decker 1987

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