Bushmeat and governance of wildlife at different scales

Who decides on the use? Landscape in Sierra Leone, 2009. Photo by Terry Sunderland for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).In many tropical and sub-tropical regions, bushmeat use is regulated through various mechanisms that act at different levels of governance, from the local to the international level. At the individual, group or community levels, traditions may regulate the use of bushmeat through taboos and beliefs. At the community level, customary rights still regulate hunting and bushmeat use. However, formal regulations at the national level often recognize customary rights only to a certain degree. At the international level, bushmeat use is regulated by a number of conventions and regulatory frameworks.

How do traditional rules and taboos govern the use of wildlife today?

Taboos are moral or cautionary restrictions placed on certain actions by the authority of people (e.g., kings, priests, elders) and derive mainly from religious and long-established traditional beliefs and social customs. Some taboos have developed as a response to environmental problems. These conservation-related taboos may be categorized as species-specific taboos and habitat taboos. The species-specific taboos protect flora and fauna in space and time; they regulate and prohibit harvesting, detrimental use and consumption. Habitat taboos control access and use of resources in a particular area, e.g. in sacred habitats.

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State versus community or local management: who has the rights to hunt and who bears the responsibilities of wildlife management?

Since the European colonisation period which promoted a very centralized way to managing resources, the breakdown in traditional controls over access to hunting grounds was observed in many tropical regions. As a result, a substantial portion of the world’s tropics is public property under the formal ownership of the State. But an important shift has begun to occur since the late 1970s in Latin America, and more recently in Africa and Asia, such that in developing countries at least 22% of all forests are owned (14%) or held in reserve (8%) for communities.

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How does the international institutional context influence the use of wildlife?

Among the species-based conventions, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibits international commercial trade of species listed in Appendix I, requiring import and export permits with clear rules demonstrating no harm, and establishes strict requirements for any other international trade that is not primarily for commercial purposes. Species listed in Appendix II require export permits which are granted upon a finding that such export “will not be detrimental” to the survival of that species. CITES, therefore, requires countries to undertake non-detriment finding procedures to allow the commercial export of Annex II species. This often results, at the national level, in the development of management plans for species that are subject to international trade. Species listed in Appendix III may be exported upon confirmation of the legality of origin of the specimen or product to be exported. CITES also requires countries to have in place scientific and administrative authorities, which generally also regulate non-CITES-listed species.

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Further reading

Larson, A.M., Cronkleton, P., Barry, D. & Pacheco, P. 2008. Tenure rights and beyond: community access to forest resources in Latin America. Occasional Paper No. 50. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR (available at http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/5255/OP-50.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y).

Assembe-Mvondo, S. 2013. Local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ rights to forest in Central Africa: from hope to challenges. Africa Spectrum, 48(1): 25–47.

Bahuguna, V.K. 2009. Community forest management in Asia – review of policy programmes. In CFIW, ed. Thinking globally – acting locally community forestry in the international arena. Proceedings of the Community International Workshop, 15–10 September 2009, Pokhara, pp, 9–11, 45–51.

Barnes, J. & Jones, B. 2009. Game ranching in Namibia. In H. Suich, B. Child & A, Spenceley, eds. Evolution and innovation in wildlife conservation—parks and game ranches to transfrontier conservation areas, pp. 113–126. London, UK, Earthscan.

Tsioumani, E. & Morgera, E. 2010. Wildlife legislation and the empowerment of the poor in Asia and Oceania. FAO legal papers online No. 83. Rome, FAO (available at www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/legal/docs/lpo83.pdf)

Egbe, S. 2002. Forest tenure and access to forest resource in Cameroon. In C. Toulmin, P.D. Lavigne & S. Traoré, eds. The dynamics of resource tenure in West Africa, pp. 61–71. London, UK, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

German, L.A., Pierce, C.J.C., Barrow, E., Küchli, C., Blaser, J. & Wardojo, W. 2010. Forest governance and decentralization in Africa: linking local, regional and global dialogues. In L.A. German, A. Karsenty & A.M. Tiani, eds. Governing Africa’s forest in a globalized world, pp. 1–25. London, UK, Earthscan.

Holmes, C. 2007. Linking livelihoods, land stewardship, and resource conservation in the Antongil Bay Landscape, Madagascar. In K.H. Redford & E. Fearn, eds. Protected areas and human livelihoods. WCS Working Paper No. 32 pp. 6–16.

Inambdar, A., Brown, D. & Cobb, S. 1999. What’s special about wildlife management in forests? Concepts and models of rights-based management, with recent evidence from West-Central Africa. Odi (44).

Jafari, R., Kideghesho. 2009. The potentials of traditional African cultural practices in mitigating overexploitation of wildlife species and habitat loss: experience of Tanzania, International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management, 5:2, 83-94.

Morgera, E., and Wingard, J. 2008. Principles for developing sustainable wildlife management laws. FAO legal papers online #75. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). Available at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/legal/docs/lpo75.pdf

Rose, A.L. 2000. Conservation must pursue human-nature biosynergy in the era of social chaos and bushmeat commerce. The Biosynergy Institute, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California USA. Available at: http://ww.w.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/stop_bushmeat_trade.pdf

Saka Oladunni Jimoh, S.O., Tertsea Ikyaagba, E., Alarape, A.A., Obioha, E.E and Adeyemi, A.A. 2012. The Role of Traditional Laws and Taboos in Wildlife Conservation in the Oban Hill Sector of Cross River National Park (CRNP), Nigeria. J Hum Ecol, 39(3): 209-219. Available at: http://www.krepublishers.com/02-Journals/JHE/JHE-39-0-000-12-Web/JHE-39-3-000-12-Abst-PDF/JHE-39-3-209-12-2303-Jimoh-S-O/JHE-39-3-209-12-2303-Jimoh-S-O-Tx[5].pdf


last updated:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015