Wild meat


The term ’wild meat’ is defined as terrestrial animal wildlife used for food in all parts of the world.


The meat of wild species has long served as a source of protein and income for millions of people throughout the world. In less developed regions, it plays an essential role in people’s diets, especially where livestock husbandry and fishing are not feasible options, or to complement livestock when unexpected production drops occur, such as during periods of drought.

There is increasing evidence that unsustainable hunting is a key factor in current wildlife declines. This threatens the integrity of ecosystems, impacts the food security of vulnerable households and global biodiversity. Nearly 20% of the IUCN Red List’s threatened and near threatened species are directly threatened by hunting, including over 300 threatened mammal species. Unsustainable harvesting rates are primarily driven by an increase in demand for wild meat in fast-growing urban centers. Urban dwellers consume wild meat as a luxury item, rather than as a nutritional staple, and they pay higher prices than rural consumers do for the same animal. This encourages hunters in rural villages to hunt more animals to sell in order to increase their income.

Many animals typically consumed as wild meat are also known to carry diseases, the use of wild meat may therefore present a risk to human and animal health.

FAO’s involvement

Over the past decades, FAO has been assisting Member Countries with transforming unsustainable harvesting of wild meat in their countries into a well-managed, culturally and economically appropriate activity. This support includes designing effective policies for the sustainable wild meat sector, improving the institutional and legal framework for the sustainable use of meat from wild species resilient to hunting, building effective institutional capacity for sustainable wild meat management and supporting field initiatives.


FAO, in collaboration with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) launched a, seven-year Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme in October 2017. This Programme an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and is funded by the European Union, through the 11th European Development Fund. It aims to stop unsustainable hunting, conserve their natural heritage, and strengthen people's livelihoods and food security.

For more information, please visit the public SWM web portal at: www.swm-programme.info  

Central Africa

FAO completed a five-year project in June 2017 entitled “Sustainable Management of the wildlife and wild meat sector in Central Africa” in four countries (Congo, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon). The project was done in collaboration with the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), CIFOR, CIRAD, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It was supported financially by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project set out to encourage communities that depend on wildlife for their survival to manage their hunting territories collectively. The intention was to switch from conservation-centred, to an adaptive and participatory approach. 

The project outputs included a book “Communautés locales et utilisation durable de la faune en Afrique centrale”. This book provides lessons learnt on community-based wildlife management and sustainable hunting practices. Other outputs included two guides in French: i) In-depth diagnosis for the implementation of community hunting management and ii) Development of a sustainable hunting management plan.

last updated:  Monday, November 4, 2019