Why eat wild meat?

Researchers: Stephanie Brittain, EJ Milner-Gulland

Partners: IIED, Living Earth, Fondation Camerounaise de la Terre Vivante (FCTV Cameroon)

Period: July 2018- March 2021

Funders: Department for International Development (DFID) UK Darwin Initiative


Project overview:

Duiker meat. Photo: Stephanie Brittain

Conservation organisations have long supported initiatives that aim to provide alternatives to the hunting and consumption of wild meat- particularly when the meat comes from endangered species. In many rural areas, wild meat is the key source of protein in peoples’ diet, so if its consumption is reduced, it is critical for the health of the population that additional protein supplies are available, acceptable and affordable.

Examples of initiatives aimed at reducing the consumption of wild meat alternatives include developing income-earning opportunities for hunters and alternative protein sources- such as fish, livestock or captive bred wild species- for consumers.

Often these initiatives have failed to achieve their conservation and food security objectives because they failed to consider the underlying drivers behind peoples’ choice to eat wild meat, such as its availability ad relative low cost, taste and cultural influences.

This project focusses on the Dja Faunal Reserve in southeast Cameroon. The reserve is a rainforest UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a wide diversity of primates and other mammals of conservation importance.  While much wild meat is sold to urban consumers, high levels of local consumption remains a significant conservation threat in rural communities, such as those surrounding the Dja Faunal Reserve.

We will conduct research within villages adjacent to the reserve, to understand why people eat wild meat and discover what local people really want from initiatives, in order for us to better develop suitable alternatives. Our findings will support improvements to the design and implementation of bushmeat alternative initiatives around the reserve and across sub-Saharan Africa.


Planned activities:

This project will improve the capacity of conservation and development actors to design and implement initiatives for to reduce the hunting of threatened species for  wild meat  that are feasible, effective and, crucially, acceptable to local people.

The project includes the following main components.

  1. Inventory of existing wild meat  projects

We will consult with local partners to compile an inventory of existing wild meat  alternative projects around the Dja Faunal Reserve.

  1. Desk based evidence reviews

We will conduct desk-based reviews of 1) the factors affecting the success of wild meat  alternative projects in sub-Saharan Africa and 2) the drivers of wild meat  as a food choice in sub-Saharan Africa.

  1. Assessment of drivers of wild meat as a food choice

We will work with local communities in three contrasting sites around the Dja Faunal Reserve to understand their food choices and the role of wild meat, as well as to understand locally-desired design features of wild meat alternatives initiatives.

  1. Synthesis and decision-support

We will develop recommendations for the Cameroonian government and implementing NGOs at the Dja Faunal Reserve and elsewhere. We will develop a decision-support tool to ensure that new interventions are better aligned with the drivers of food choice, making them more effective at increasing food security, meeting people’s needs and priorities, and conserving species threatened by unsustainable hunting.


Project outputs:

One output will be the development of a decision support tool. This tool will be intended for use by the designers of new interventions, to enable future initiatives to be better aligned with the drivers of food choice and meet peoples’ needs and priorities. In turn, initiatives will be more effective at increasing food security and conserving species threatened by unsustainable hunting.


More information:

The project flyer can be downloaded here (coming soon!)

Project information from IIED website can be found here

river crossing