Engaging the Community to Solve the Bushmeat Crisis

Once a major source of protein and livelihood in the tropical forest, the increasing consumption of bushmeat pressures wild animal populations, creates attendant crises such as the outbreak of zoonotic diseases, and causes ecological imbalances. The 'Domestication of Small Monogastric and Ruminant Animals' (DSMR) project led by the Forestry Research Institute Nigeria (FRIN) works with local communities to solve the bushmeat crisis.

Subject Matter Specialists (in grey) from the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism showing farmers how to raise rabbits. © FRIN/Titilope Olarewaju

Titilope Olarewaju

Dr. Olarewaju is socio-economic researcher and extension officer with the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN). She currently heads the market and community outreach unit of extension services in her institute and is involved with engaging communities in climate action, gender mainstreaming, facilitating market access and improving farmers' livelihoods.

Oluseyi Olutoyin Olugbire

Dr. Olugbire is a socio-economic researcher in the Department of Forest Economics and Extension Services, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN). She is the Head of Extension Services and Outreach Unit of the Institute and coordinates Forest Extension activities and community development programs for the Institute.

Oluwatosin Obafunsho

Obafunsho is research fellow at the Forestry Research Institute Nigeria (FRIN). Her main goal is to ensure improved livelihoods of rural dwellers by promoting gender-balanced, resource-providing, eco-friendly agricultural practices.

Bolanle Olatunji

Olatunji is a Senior Research fellow with Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria. She works at the department of Forest Economics and Extension Services where she is actively involved with the dissemination of technologies to farmers, evaluations and public relations.

Lucy Orumwense

Orumwese is a Research Fellow at Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN). She specializes on climate change and as extension officer collaborates with various research institutions on improving extension delivery in South-west Nigeria.

This article first appeared in Rural21 Vol. 55 No. 4/2021 on Sustainable Fisheries and is part of a media cooperation between Rural21 and weltohnehunger.org.

Bushmeat simply stands for any wild animal killed for the purpose of eating its meat, and is an integral part of African culture. Hunting of wildlife is one of the coping and survival strategies used in the continent. Bushmeat has traditionally been a key source of protein and livelihood in the tropical forests. It is used to achieve food security and nutritional balance, create employment and cash income and generate an inflow of foreign earnings. It is applied in medicinal and health remedies, drug development, ceremonial and spiritual cleansing, and cultural and religious practices. Changes in technology, population growth and declining economies have contributed to rapid increases in the use of wildlife, as have increasing urbanization associated with higher income and standards of living, a growing preference for bushmeat as well as an increasing fragmentation of forests.

 

Bushmeat Hunting Spreads Diseases

Although all of Africa is affected by this new crisis, West and Central Africa are hit most hard. The impact of the increasing consumption of bushmeat is associated with a number of challenges. If the present hunt rate continues, the outbreak of zoonotic diseases and ecological imbalances will become ever greater issues of concern.

 

A growing appetite for bushmeat among urban residents is increasing the transmission of zoonotic diseases like Ebola and COVID-19, and threatening wildlife populations in Nigeria and its surrounding countries.

 

In a study conducted in major Nigerian cities, around 98 per cent of urban bushmeat consumers indicated that there are suitable alternatives to bushmeat, but 75 per cent of the respondents still intended to continue eating bushmeat despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the links between bushmeat trade and the spread of zoonotic diseases. However, hunting of bushmeat in rural communities is largely driven by limited dietary options and demand from cities, which is economically rewarding. The production of alternative sources of protein and income is one strategy that can be used to address the bushmeat crisis in rural communities. Bushmeat hunting is acknowledged as the biggest contributor to the spread of zoonotic diseases. The Ebola outbreak of 2013 and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown that habitat reduction and unregulated wildlife hunting is significantly increasing our contact with animal reservoirs and enhancing the chances of disease transmission. It was to this end that the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), which has a mandate for environmental sustainability, started a domestication and multiplication programme for small monogastric and ruminant animals.

 

The Alternative: Rabbits

The project “Domestication of Small Monogastric and Ruminant Animals” (DSMR) has primarily targeted rural communities, since bushmeat is mainly hunted and supplied to urban cities from such areas. The dissemination of production technologies of selected small monogastric and ruminant animals is the core activity under this project. Considering resource limitations and conditions in such areas, grasscutters, or greater cane rats, and rabbits appeared to be suitable animals to promote. Both animals have the ability to feed on a wide range of grasses, leafy materials, tubers, fruits, grains and other kitchen leftovers. Rearing of these small monogastric animals provides alternative sources of income for farmers when sold and also increases farmers’ access to animal protein for dietary needs when consumed at home. The meats are highly marketable and accepted by all social classes in urban and rural communities of West Africa. In terms of nutrition, they serve as important sources of highly priced animal protein thanks to their leanness and unique organoleptic properties. Both grasscutters and rabbits can be raised as backyard ventures. The DSMR project started in 2019 and is fully funded by the FRIN under the Ministry of Environment.

 

The project aims at diverting over-exploitation of forest resources to sustainable use systems.

 

In the project framework, trainings are organized by the Forest Economics and Extension services extension arm in collaboration with Subject Matter Specialists from the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism.

 

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Rabbit production training for Arowojeka Farmer’s Group at Oyegun community, Ibadan Oyo State, Nigeria. © FRIN/Titilope Olarewaju

From Research to Village: Making it Work

35 communities which the FRIN has an existing relationship with were contacted and briefed about the opportunity to obtain free training and discounted start-up kits for groups or individuals. Farmers were able to inform the FRIN of their interest in the project. A total of 20 farmer groups got in touch, and the project team visited and trained them on grasscutter and rabbit production techniques. Areas covered in the training included housing, procurement of foundation stock, feeding, sex determination, stocking and pairing of animals in cages, reproduction, gestation and parturition, weaning, processing and preservation of meats, as well as marketing. Farmers and groups interested in rearing either of these animals were required to provide space and housing units for the respective animals.

 

Preliminary visits and reconnaissance surveys were then conducted in order to determine the availability and suitability of housing units for the animals in these communities. Farmers or farmers groups who met these conditions were then supplied with start-up animal kits on a discounted arrangement in order to enlist commitment of beneficiaries. For communities around Ibadan metropolis, five groups have benefited from this arrangement, and plans are in place to replicate the project around the major cities in the country’s six geopolitical zones. The reports from beneficiaries indicate that the animals are a great protein source and have reduced hunting levels. Community members have also been earning regular incomes from sales of the animals.

 

Reports have it that a group that initially acquired three bucks and one doe now has 18, with an additional 22 consumed, gifted or sold.

 

Technical know-how, discounted foundation stocks, routine follow up and guidance have so far helped in consolidating this achievement. The FRIN plans to cover at least two major cities per geopolitical zone, with the aim of supporting a minimum of five groups per city. This is expected to cover ten groups or individuals per zone and a total of 60 groups spanning the six zones of the country. Presently, funding, insecurity and avid commitment on the part of farmers are the major challenges of the project. The project is still in its early stages, so that an account of its impact on hunting and consumption of bushmeat cannot be given yet.

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For five days, the 2022 Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin is all about strategies for a more sustainable land use.

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‘Invite yourself’ – Farmers organisations as key stakeholders of food systems

A Contribution by Andreas-Hermes-Akademie

The Andreas Hermes Academy (AHA) discusses the transformation of food systems with 30 representatives of farmers organisations.

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German G7 Presidency – fighting hunger with all our might

A Contribution by Welthungerhilfe

In the run-up to the G7 summit, experts from politics and civil society discussed sustainable and more effective options for action by the G7 states to combat hunger.

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How the War against Ukraine Destabilizes Global Grain Markets

A Contribution by GIZ

Since early February 2022, two of the biggest grain and oilseed exporters have been at war. An overview, which countries are affected most severely by the destabilized grain markets, and what comes next.

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Five Questions for Dirk Meyer

An Interview with Dirk Meyer (BMZ)

Development cooperation needs to place good governance and a sustainable agri-food systems transformation at its center: After the first 100 days in office have passed, Dirk Meyer from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) spells out the goals, guidelines and priorities of the Ministry’s new lead.

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The Black Sea Breadbasket in Crisis: Facts and Figures

An infographic by ONEWORLD no Hunger

Rising food and gas prices, physical destruction and supply chain disruptions: Why the Black Sea region matters and how the war in Ukraine affects global food security.

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(c) Privat

A classroom in the Garden of Eden

By Iris Manner

Deforestation harms people and the environment. With nurseries, farmers can earn money and do good. You just have to know how to do it

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(c) Privat

How much private investment is the agricultural sector able to bear?

By Pedro Morazán

Small farmers in developing countries must modernise their farming methods, but poorly understood reforms could exacerbate poverty instead of alleviating it.

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Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

No dirty dealing

Von Marlis Lindecke

Shit Business is Serious Business: A successful cooperation between research and the private sector.

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„You must be multisectoral in your thinking”

Interview with Adriano Campolina (FAO)

For years, place-based approaches to development have been considered important features in development cooperation, at the BMZ and in FAO. Both organisations are aiming at advancing these approaches: an interview with Adriano Campolina from the FAO on territorial and landscape perspectives.

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Support for sustainable start-ups

Companies in Africa that need financing between $20,000 and $200,000 find relatively few investors, as this sector is too large for microcredit and too small for institutional investors. This creates a "gap in the middle" where companies have limited options. A project of the World Resource Institute provides a remedy with the Landaccelerator 2020.

A World Resources Institute project

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Mr. Samimi, what is environmental change doing to Africa?

Interview with Cyrus Samimi (IAS)

Environmental change is having a particularly strong impact on the African continent. Its landscapes see both negative and positive processes. What is science's view of this? A conversation with Cyrus Samimi about mobility for livelihoods, urban gardening and dealing with nature.

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(c) GIZ

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSES FOR MORE SOIL CONSERVATION

With the help of sustainable farming methods, soils can be preserved and made fertile again. The investment required is also worthwhile from a financial perspective.

A project of GIZ

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©WFP/Rein Skullerud

Revolutionising Humanitarian Aid

A contribution by Ralf Südhoff

Financial innovations can prevent a crisis turning into a catastrophe. The livelihoods of people in affected areas may well depend on intervention before a crisis – and on risk funds.

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(c) Privat

The 'Grey Gold'

A contribution by Maria Schmidt (GIZ)

The Cashew Council is the first international organisation for a raw material stemming from Africa. The industry promises to make progress in processing and refining cashew nuts - and answers to climate change

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(c) Privat

Human Rights, Land and Rural Development

A contribution by Michael Windfuhr (German Institute for Human Rights)

Land rights are no longer governed by the law of the strongest. That is what the international community has agreed to. Governments and private companies have a duty to respect human rights and avoid corruption.

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picture-alliance/Zentralbild

Land is Crucial for Development

A contribution by Roselyn Korleh and M. Sahr Nouwah (WHH)

The Liberian town of Kinjor is a picture-book example for what happens, if land rights aren’t protected, and it illustrates how to move forward from there. The keyword: Multi-Actor Partnership

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Planetary Health: Recommendations for a Post-Pandemic World

A contribution by Dr. Kathleen Mar and Dr. Nicole de Paula

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is receiving unprecedented public and political attention. Yet the fact that climate change is also affecting the environmental and social determinants of health in a profound and far-reaching way deserves further recognition.

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No rainforest for our consumption

A contribution by Jenny Walther-Thoß (WWF)

In the tropics rainforests are still being felled for the production of palm oil, meat and furniture. It is high time to act. Proposals are on the table.

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The fight against illegal fishing

A Report

The oceans are important for our food supply, but they are overfished. To halt this trend the global community is now taking action against illegal fishing. Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Francesco Marí, a specialist for world food, agricultural trade and maritime policy at "Brot für die Welt," and others.

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Nine Harvests Left until 2030: How Will the BMZ Organise Itself in the Future?

An Interview with Dirk Schattschneider (BMZ)

"One World no Hunger" (SEWOH) becomes one of the five core themes of the BMZ. Dirk Schattschneider, SEWOH Commissioner about previous approaches, future areas of action, and the political will to end hunger.

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A Climate of Hunger: How the Climate Crisis Fuels the Hunger

A photo reportage by the Zeitenspiegel agency

Every one degree Celsius rise in temperature increases the risk of conflict by two to ten percent. The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis, as the photos by Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze illustrate.

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