Bushmeat is also a good source of nutrition. In certain rural areas of West and Central Africa, Bushmeat provides 80-90% or more of the animal protein requirements.
Prior studies on bushmeat consumption have been limited to a few cities. We conducted research with my colleagues to include urban and rural households from Ghana’s major ecological zones. Our goal was to analyze individual consumer demographics and provide insight into different consumer segments. The data could be used to create public campaigns that change consumer behaviours or promote domesticated Bushmeat as a sustainable forest management tool.
The study also revealed differences in the consumption patterns between regions. We also recommended safe meat harvesting techniques for conservationists.
Segmenting consumers and markets
The study was conducted within the three main eco-zones of Ghana. The study was born in the three main ecological zones of Ghana: high forest, transitional zone, and savannah zone. In the high forest zone, there are forest reserves that contain species important to Ghana’s biodiversity. In these areas, Bushmeat is made from a variety of wild games.
This zone is a transitional zone that has characteristics of both high forest and savannah. This is where the Techiman Market is located. It is a geographical link between Ghana’s north and south, so a lot of Bushmeat gets traded here.
We visited Sene West in the savannah area, which is a district with a large market and a National Park.
In total, we interviewed 400 consumers. We analyzed 14 variables, including age, education, and gender, as well as household size, religion, job, and religious beliefs. We also considered the people’s opinions on nutrition, taste, and disease. We also thought the availability and price of Bushmeat.
Around 67% of respondents are bushmeat eaters. The most popular Bushmeat is grasscutter (a type of canerat). Also popular were two antelope species, Maxwell’s duiker (and Black duiker).
Price, age, and religion were all factors that affected the decision not to eat bushmeat. Fear of contracting disease and eating bushmeat that was contaminated with poison influenced the amount of bushmeat consumed.
The perception of a positive taste and nutritional value were associated with consumption. The consumption of Bushmeat was higher if the meat came from a local restaurant (known as a “chop bar”) and was smoked.
Except for those living in the forest zone, consumers were younger. Bushmeat consumption was lower in areas where livestock meat was readily available and more affordable. In the transitional and forest zones, people with higher levels of education were less likely than others to consume Bushmeat. In the savannah, higher education was associated with higher income and more likely consumption of Bushmeat.
Except in the savannah region, consumers did not appear to be concerned about contracting disease or eating poisonous Bushmeat.
Religion can also influence whether or not people choose to eat Bushmeat. Many Muslims demand that certain rituals be performed when slaughtering an animal, which is not done during bushmeat hunts. In the high forests, where Akan is the dominant ethnic group, certain animals are off-limits, but others can still be eaten.
Chop bars are the most popular place to buy Bushmeat. The local eateries offer a wide variety of Bushmeat.
Consumption and conservation
The results of the study revealed that, although Bushmeat is still popular among some older people, there is a new market segment dominated primarily by young people.
The study suggests that, in order to manage forests, the Forestry Commission of Ghana’s Wildlife Division enforces laws that only authorized chop-bar operators can sell Bushmeat throughout the different ecological zones. This is especially true for the transition zone.
To prevent over-harvesting, the public and operators of chop-bars should be informed about purchasing wild game from licensed bushmeat hunters or sellers.
The meat should be safe for consumption while maintaining the flavor. To reduce the risk of disease spreading from animals to humans, they should not use poisons in harvesting or follow good husbandry practices.
The marketing of domesticated wild game should be targeted at the younger consumer group, as they tend to be less price sensitive and more likely than older consumers to purchase in large quantities. These consumers might be attracted by a modern marketing approach (such as digital advertising).