Contents - Previous - Next

3.1.4 Trophies, skins & hides

Apart from bushmeat wild animals contribute to local economies through their by-products such as skins, hides, bones, shells and horns, but accurate information on income accruing to local communities from the marketing of such products is not available for any African country. Some wild animal species may be more valuable for their trophy (e.g. elephants, rhinos) or for their skins (e.g. carnivores, reptiles). Some of these items e.g., ivory and rhino horn have intrinsic value and people will continue to choose such items and pay high prices for ornaments made from these even when there are substitutes. The value of ivory rose from $5 per kg in the 1960s to $ 70 in the mid-1970s and further to $150 in early 1980s (UNEP, 1989). With this high increase in price, ivory became a form of currency by which rich businessmen exported money out of Africa. The drastic decline in elephant populations has been attributed mainly to poaching and illegal ivory trade. Until the ban on international trade in African ivory, the bulk of ivory from the continent was supplied by Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Congo and South Africa.

Hides and skins may be used locally for the manufacture of items of clothing such as shoes, bags, belts and hats or may be transported for sale in city markets or exported for the manufacture of more sophisticated leather products. Ostrich and crocodile skins are valuable commodities used for the production of fancy and high quality leather goods. The skin of other reptiles such as pythons and lizards are also in great demand. Local craftsmen use bones and horns of wild animals for the manufacture of various artifacts which are sold to supplement household income.

3.1.5 Live animal trade

Demand for live wild animals comes from the pet industry, Zoological gardens, and biomedical research programmes. Various species of birds including parrots, tauracos arid finches as well as reptiles and monkeys are sold for pets locally or on the export market. Data exists in several African countries on wild animal exports because of the permits required for export. These data are, however, underestimates since they cover only those animals exported legally. Records of wild animal exports from Ghana between 1989-1994 show that reptiles form the bulk of the export trade with the Royal python topping the list, followed by the Bosc's monitor lizard, Tortoises and Agama lizards (Table 3.9). The total number of animals exported and value varied from year to year, averaging 50,500 specimens valued around US$140,000. Compared with the wild animal export records for earlier years, the volume of exports have gone down considerably over the past ten years. This is attributed to the national ban on exploitation of African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) which was instituted in 1986. Prior to the ban, Grey parrots accounted for the greater part of live wild animal exports from the country e.g. in 1985, 9,580 African Grey Parrots were exported at a value of US $ 287,400, accounting for nearly 46 % of the total number of animals exported and 84 % of the total revenue from the exports (Ntiamoa-Baidu, 1987). There is some evidence that the live animal trade is lucrative but that most of the profits go to the middlemen and international sales agents with very little going to the local people who do the capturing.

3.2 Wildlife and health

3.2.1 Spiritual health
3.2.2 Physical and mental health

Given that food is available, the ability for a person to gain access to food and consume it for the body to metabolise and assimilate it for use in the various physiological processes depend on the person's state of health, be it spiritual, mental or physical. The role of wild animals and wild animal products to health in Africa is therefore an important component in the matrix of issues pertaining to household food security on the continent. Apart from the direct contribution of wild resources to nutritional well-being, the successful use of traditional medicines reduces expenditure on medical care and saves the family money which can be used to purchase food and other necessities.

Contents - Previous - Next