Bushmeat use contributes to people’s livelihoods in several different ways. Bushmeat plays an important cultural and social role, contributes to local economies and the nutrition of rural and urban populations.

How does bushmeat contribute to the different components of livelihoods?

Hunting in tropical regions is practised for a variety of reasons that contribute to local livelihoods. The multiple contributions of hunting can be summarized using two main categories: (a) economic and the (b) socio-cultural:

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Is bushmeat mainly used for subsistence or for commercial purposes?

In many tropical countries, bushmeat is used to satisfy basic subsistence requirements, but many families also hunt wild animals to sell. For hunters, the distinction between subsistence and commercial use is often blurred, with meat from the forest supplementing both diets and incomes. Many depend on wildlife resources as a buffer to see them through times of hardship (e.g., unemployment, illness of relatives, crop failure) or to gain additional income for special needs (e.g., school fees, festivals, funerals) and this ‘safety net’ is often more important for the more vulnerable members of a community. Professional commercial hunters also exist and they often target specific species for a specific demand, with hunting practices that involve more technology and a more organized market chain. In many instances, increasing demand for bushmeat in urban centres is driving an increased commercialisation of the bushmeat trade.

How important is bushmeat in rural diets?

Woman preparing paca meat in the market of Quibdo, Chocó, Colombia. Photo: Maria Paula Quiceno.In Central Africa, rural consumption of bushmeat ranges from 14.6 to 97.6 kg/capita/year and hunting provides between 30 to 80% of the overall protein intake of rural households and nearly 100% of animal proteins. In southern and eastern Africa, forest game and caterpillars are highly exploited for food, even where domesticated livestock or fish are available. In west African countries, marine and freshwater fish are the primary source of animal protein in coastal areas, but bushmeat consumption figures range from 20% of the animal protein among rural people living in Nigeria's rainforest areas, to 75% in rural Ghana, and to as much as 80-90% in Liberia.

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What is the importance of urban demand for bushmeat?

Bushmeat is consumed by urban dwellers in many tropical countries for different reasons including availability, price, taste and tradition, varying across regions.

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Further reading 

Fa, J.E., Olivero, J., Farfán, M.A., Márquez, A.L., Duarte, J., Nackoney, J., Hall, A., Dupain, J., Seymour, S., Johnson, P.J., Macdonald, D.W., Real, R. & Vargas, J.M. 2015. Correlates of bushmeat in markets and depletion of wildlife. Conservation Biology, 00, No. 0, 1–11

Fischer, A., Sandström, C., Delibes-Mateo, M., Arroyo, B., Tadie, D., Randall, D., Hailu, F., Lowassa, A., Msuha, M., Kereži, V., Reljić, S., Linnell, J. & Majić, A. 2013. On the multifunctionality of hunting – an institutional analysis of eight cases from Europe and Africa. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 56(4): 531–552.

Nasi, R., Brown, D., Wilkie, D., Bennett, E., Tutin, C., van Tol, G. & Christophersen, T. 2008. Conservation and use of wildlife-based resources: the bushmeat crisis. Montreal, Canada, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Bogor, Indonesia, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Technical Series No. 33 (available at

Nasi R., Taber A. & van Vliet N. 2011. Empty forests, empty stomachs? Bushmeat and livelihoods in the Congo and Amazon Basins. International Forestry Review, 13(3): 355–368.

Pangau-Adam., M., Noske, R.A. & Muehlenberg, M. 2012. Wildmeat or Bushmeat? Subsistence Hunting and Commercial Harvesting in Papua (West New Guinea), Indonesia. Human Ecology, 40(4): 611–621.

van Vliet, N., Quiceno-Mesa, M.P., Cruz-Antia, D., Neves de Aquino, L. J., Moreno, J. & Nasi, R. 2014. The uncovered volumes of bushmeat commercialized in the Amazonian trifrontier between Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 3(7): 1–11.




last updated:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015