Bushmeat Consumption in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem, Tanzania

Illegal hunting, driven by demand for bushmeat, threatens animal populations throughout Africa. While bushmeat consumption is thought to be common in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem (TME) of Northern Tanzania, its magnitude and drivers are not well understood. This lack of knowledge may inhibit effective mitigation policies. We conducted 394 household interviews in the TME in 2013 and 2014 to assess both the scale and the possible drivers of bushmeat availability and consumption in the ecosystem. Using generalized linear mixed models, information theoretic model selection, and accounting for spatial clustering of the interviews, we tested multiple hypotheses that underlie bushmeat consumption. Bushmeat consumption in the TME was found to be widespread among the local population. Surprisingly, we found little differences in reported bushmeat consumption between survey years (2013: 38%; 2014: 33% of interviewees). Pastoral Maasai admitted to consuming bushmeat significantly less often (2013: 29%; 2014: 26%) than non-Maasai (2013: 38%; 2014: 34%). Interestingly, none of the hypothesized spatial- or household-level factors consistently correlated with reported bushmeat consumption. Neither alternative sources of available animal protein, nor relative wealth affected bushmeat consumption. In conjunction with the relatively low price of bushmeat (half the price of domestic meat), these results suggest that bushmeat consumption is largely driven by its availability and low cost, and only to a small degree by cultural differences. Thus, conservation interventions will likely be most successful if they holistically manage to increase the cost of bushmeat relative to alternative protein sources.

Last Updated
March 25, 2021