A regional approach to address the bushmeat problem in Eastern Africa

Alternatives to Bushmeat Hunting

Illegal bushmeat hunting in Africa is conducted for two primary purposes: food and livelihoods. As the numbers of rural households increases over time with population growths up to 3.6% in East Africa, pressures for limited land and food increase. These pressures are compounded by climate change, which is predicted to reduce food and livelihood security over the coming century. One of the impacts will be increased reliance on natural resources, including wildlife, to satisfy demand.









Handing over goats for alternatives project around Murchisons Falls National Park. Courtesy of G.Okello

Uganda Wildlife Authority works with Jonam Cultural and Conservation Association on a BEAN/USFWS project aimed at reducing dependencies on wildlife consumption. Working with hunters on larger domestic animals targets income generation rather than household protein consumption.

Although law enforcement is essential to protecting wildlife from illegal poaching, pressures which drive bushmeat hunting must be addressed by countries. BEAN’s approach is committed to bringing wildlife departments and organizations together to address this complex multi-disciplinary challenge. Through developing partnerships with development organizations, government agencies, the private sector, citizens, and conservation entities, BEAN can facilitate the development of approaches to addressing the protein dilemma seen across protected areas in Eastern Africa. Already BEAN, through USFWS support, examines small scale projects that increase protein production in communities around protected areas in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and in the future, Tanzania. We frame the problem in two ways in order to break down the complexities into tangible approaches: al visits) are all cited reasons from research with hunters during the MENTOR program. For men with easy access to relatively rich ecosystems, poaching can be a lucrative activity, even if legal livelihoods are available, as income from the sale of bushmeat is fast and requires little input, unlike activities such as farming, which may take months before profits are realized from great effort.

To learn more about the projects on alternative proteins and livelihoods in Uganda and South Sudan,   click here

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

One of BEAN’s founders based in Murchison Falls has been working on innovative approaches to addressing bushmeat in communities around the park. Research in 2008-2009 revealed high levels of bushmeat consumption was concentrated around the national park, where the majority of those interviewed eat it on a weekly basis. One reason is that bushmeat in this area is cheaper than domestic meat. In addition to other strategies to address the drastic decline in wildlife in Uganda, community leaders were identified that wanted to work on developing protein alternatives to bushmeat, that could also serve as a source of sustainable income. Together they developed the Jonam Cultural and Conservation Association, a group of hunters who are trying to change their ways. Concurrently with voluntary handing over of poaching tools and awareness raising, BEAN and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Veterinary Department delivered 42 goats. UWA is also contributing another 85 goats to increase the outcome. The challenge with these types of projects are getting them to have long-term success. A participating chief’s remarks at the beginning of the project provide some insight (New Vision, 8 March 2011); “We want the reformed poachers to be given income-generating activities since they have abandoned illegal hunting which used to be their source of livelihood. They have been given one goat each, but that is not enough.” It is clear that this type of project will need continual engagement with participants, and through efforts of this sort, BEAN can bring partners together to develop more holistic approaches to the protein challenge.

Initiated and upcoming projects addressing alternative proteins

Katavi National Park, Tanzania

A grant has been awarded to a BEAN founding member to vaccinate chickens in the Katavi Ecosystem against Newcastle’s disease—an eye ailment that leads to high mortality rates in local chicken populations. This project arises from research that suggested nearly 70% of households that hunted did so for income; the other doing so for food. Although meat is available in the area, the costs are much higher than bushmeat. This intervention at the livestock health interface posits that healthy chicken populations result in increased incomes and stronger food security in the area, reducing the actual need for bushmeat proteins amongst families who raise chickens. This work, which will take place in late 2012, follows in the footsteps of work done by Dr. Dennis Rentsch who established the link between Newcastle’s disease and bushmeat consumption in Tanzania.

Protein and Income: Integrating complex problems

Badingilo National Park, South Sudan

Bushmeat consumption around Badingilo National Park and the wildlife dispersal area is widespread, and hunting is carried out by civilians and law enforcement agents alike. When surveyed about behavior change, rural peoples explained that the best alternatives to bushmeat included fish and chicken; cattle are highly valued in South Sudanese society and are rarely sold as food. To combat the daunting threats to wildlife, a founding BEAN member is working on a multi-pronged approach—raising awareness at multiple levels of society and government and helping to increase capacity of law enforcement. In addition, building on support from USFWS and WCS, hunters are being engaged along two Nile River communities in a project to bring more fish proteins into the local markets and to provide increased revenue through alternative means to hunting. In collaboration with a Wildlife Conservation Society program with adjacent communities, hunters are getting trained by Ministry of Fisheries experts on sustainable fishing, preservation techniques, and business skills. The desired result will be less poaching of local wildlife, and less pressure on the migration of tiang, a sub-species of topi whose population of nearly 250,000 animals migrate through a small corridor along the Nile (Source: WCS).