A regional approach to address the bushmeat problem in Eastern Africa

Capacity Building 

For wildlife departments, organizations, and promising conservation professionals across Eastern Africa, strengthening knowledge, skills, and awareness of bushmeat issues is imperative in addressing the threats to wildlife posed by overhunting. Capacity building is one of the four pillars of BEAN and has developed from the experiences and research from USFWS MENTOR Fellowship program fellows across Eastern Africa who co-founded BEAN. These interventions by BEAN’s founding members of wildlife professionals with funding from the USFWS focus on three levels of capacity building: individual, institutional, and systemic.

Individual

Capacity development in BEAN began with the 2008/2009 USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program, which addressed the need for action to curtail illegal bushmeat trade in East Africa. This individual-level capacity development will continue in 2012 through the strengthening and introduction of bushmeat-focused curriculum at major wildlife learning institutions across the four countries, beginning with Mweka, the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania.

Institutions

Capacity development in BEAN began with the 2008/2009 USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program, which addressed the need for action to curtail illegal bushmeat trade in East Africa. This individual-level capacity development will continue in 2012 through the strengthening and introduction of bushmeat-focused curriculum at major wildlife learning institutions across the four countries, beginning with Mweka, the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania.

Systemic

At a broad level, the challenge of bushmeat is a multi-dimensional, touching on poverty, food security, human and wildlife health, cultural values, consumer choice, and governance. This is a difficult challenge which requires a multi-faceted approach, and includes capacity building in the sectors of communications and policy development for linking multiple stakeholders to engage government. To address the lack of communication between wildlife professionals across the region, BEAN has developed this website to provide up to date information on bushmeat news in Africa, and present scientific and policy papers developed by individuals and organizations associated with BEAN. As this website becomes a key tool for the network, it will be strategic for not only awareness raising and information, but will increase the capacity of individuals, organizations, and government departments to collaborate and network by providing a platform from which to work. In the policy arena, BEAN founders played an important role at the Joint Meeting of the CBD Liaison Group on Bushmeat and the CITES Central Africa Bushmeat Workshop Group held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 7-10 June 2011. They helped to emphasize that the illegal and unsustainable commercial bushmeat trade in Eastern Africa is a growing problem that needs attention. As a direct result of BEAN's participation, law enforcement was highlighted for the first time and included in the final CITES/CBD bushmeat recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participants of Kenya's first bushmeat symposium. Photo by E. Kariuki

In Kenya there are challenges over wildlife ownership and the poor mechanisms for information management and sharing. To address this, the first-ever bushmeat symposium was organized by BEAN founding members in 2009. This workshop brought together over 16 wildlife and donor partners to discuss the bushmeat crisis. Not only did this raise the profile of bushmeat within the wildlife network, but it also served as a platform to build relationships between organizations to work together on bushmeat, and resulted in the creation of a Kenya Wildlife Service’s point-person on bushmeat. In 2012, Kenya will hold a second symposium bringing together stakeholders and government to address bushmeat within the Wildlife Policy and Wildlife Bill. Similar efforts in other BEAN countries may follow based on country-specific needs.