The Friendly Twist: Bushmeat and People in a Selected Area

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Published on International Journal of Food & Nutrition
Publication Date: December, 2019

Adebisi, M. A., Ibitoye,,O. S. & Oke, R. A.
Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria
Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria

Journal Full Text PDF: The Friendly Twist: Bushmeat and People in a Selected Area.

Human and bushmeat interaction can be linked to human existence itself. It is believed to be easily accessed and consumed by the resource-poor rural dwellers, thereby contributing to their nutrition and welfare. There is little knowledge of bushmeat-human relationship in the study area. The study was therefore carried out to determine the household’s bushmeat consumption in Isokan Local Government Area, Osun State, Nigeria. A random sampling method was used to select 200 households for the study. Respondents were chosen randomly from any member of each selected household who is above 21 years. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as mean and percentages. The relationships between socio-demographic parameters and respondents’ consumption rate were analyzed using chi-square. The results showed that the household size of the respondents was averagely above 4 persons. They spent on the average 2000 naira per month on bushmeat consumption. Bushmeat consumption and preference is age and gender dependent (P < 0.005). Most of the wild animals consumed belong to the least concern category of IUCN red list, but pangolin conservation was revealed to be urgently needed. The study recommends the domestication and multiplication of desirable species in order to reduce hunting pressure as well as promoting sustainable consumption of bushmeat.

Keywords: Human-wildlife interaction, Wildlife, Bushmeat, forest management, Consumption.

1. Introduction
In Africa, overhunting of tropical wildlife from the forest for food remains an obdurate issue worldwide. These include conservation and sustainable usage of the animals (East et al., 2005) and peculiarities between cultures as it relates to bushmeat (Rose, 2002; Wilkie et al., 2005). The unsustainable use of wildlife has led to some species going into extinction leading to the so-called empty forest syndrome due to unsustainable hunting practices. Multi-species harvest is typical of bushmeat hunting in Nigeria; it places large-bodied species at risk of extinction. Bushmeat is an important protein source in African countries and beyond. Livelihood and consumer preferences are the main drivers of bushmeat consumption. Many poor people in marginal areas depend on bushmeat for their animal protein supply since they have no other source or cannot find the money for alternative (Abebrese, 2014).

Profit-making trade in the meat of wild animals is on the increase. Abuse of the world’s lingering tropical forests through overhunting is considered a major source of biodiversity loss, in some cases more important than deforestation. The evidence is that the exploitation of wild animals for food (bushmeat) by tropical forest dwellers has increased in recent years. This is due to growing human populations, greater access to undisturbed forests, changes in hunting technology, and scarcity of alternative protein sources. The uncontrolled hunting and capture of animals for business purposes has posed serious threat worthy of concern to the wildlife population. Over time, bushmeat studies tend to be driven by conservation needs rather than livelihood concerns (Aline, 2016). The balance between bushmeat conservation and sustainable usage of bushmeat resources should be encouraged.
Forests and fallow field areas provide the habitat for many commonly consumed wildlife species. Bushmeat is choice meat in most part of the world especially in sub-Sahara Africa (Wilkie et al. 2016). It serves as sources of livelihood to people by providing income, employment, food, and medicine. In spite of this, bushmeat consumption in various households at the community level is yet to be well understood. This study examined human interactions with bushmeat in the study area as well as opens up the impact of human bushmeat consumption on the animal population in the area.

2. Methodology
2.1 Study Area
Isokan local government Area in Osun state Nigeria has an area of 179km2 and a population of 103, 177 as at 2006 national census although this population is expected to have increased by 1.2% per annum judging by Nigeria growth rate. Apomu which is the headquarters of the local government is located between 7°20′00″N 4°11′00″E with Mean annual rainfall between 2,000 and 2,200 mm. The maximum temperature is at 32.5oC and relative humidity of 79.90%. The area is blessed with the both dry and wet season, wet season last between March and October, while the dry season comes between November and February. The tropical nature of the climate favours the growth of a variety of food and cash crops including cocoa, palm produce, kola, while food crops include yam, maize, cassava, millet, rice, and plantain. The vegetation consists of high forest and derived savanna towards the north. The high forest often called tropical rainforest areas dominated by forest tree species such as Terminalia ivorensis, Terminalia superba, Khaya grandifolia, Nauclea diderichii and Tectona grandis among others. There are enormous varieties of wildlife present in the areas among which are different species of Monkey and Antelopes, Squirrel, Crocodile, Bush pig, Bush fowl, Monitor Lizard, Giant rat, Porcupine, Snails, Snakes, etc (Okeke et al. 2013; Oyegbami et al. 2018). Close to the study area is a number of forest reserves among which are Ago Owu Forest Reserve with 32,116 hectares in the high forest areas, Oba Hills Forest reserves with 3,367 ha each in both the high forest and derived savanna, Ila reserve has 259 ha in the high forest area, Oni and Ikeja/Ipetu have 8,589; 5,283; and 3,548 ha respectively in the high forest area.

2.2. Data Collection
Data were collected using a well-structured questionnaire administered to 200 randomly selected households in the local government area. A random sampling method was used to select 200 households for the study. Respondent was chosen randomly from any member of each selected household. Data were collected between March and August 2016. Photographs of wild and domestic animals found in the region were shown to the respondents to ask whether the respondents had in their lifetime, ever eaten the species or sold them. Data collected include; demographic information (age, sex, marital status, level of education, family size), type of bushmeat consumed, size, body part consumed, health, method of acquisition, level of consumption, perception, prices of different bushmeat species amongst others. Questionnaires were translated to their local dialect (Yoruba) for easier comprehension.

2.3 Data analysis
Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistic 23 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics such as mean, frequency, and percentage were used to analyze the demographic profile and the distribution of bushmeat species by their IUCN red list status. Chi-square analysis was used to determine the relationship between the demographic status and the respondent’s bushmeat consumption rates.

4. Results
Table 1 shows the demographic profile of the respondents. The majority of the respondents were predominantly young (mean age = 34years). 56% of the respondents were male and 44% female. Majority of the respondents (94%) were of Yoruba tribe, judging by the geographical location of the study area. Most (60%) of the respondents were married. About 65% of the respondents have a family size above 4 persons whose predominant occupation is farming. Polygamy and giving birth to many children is usually the practice.

Table 1: Distribution of the socio-demographic characteristics of the population
Variable Frequency Percentage
1 Gender Male 112 56.0
Female 88 44.0
2 Age 20-30years 62 31
31-40years 42 21
41-50 37 18.5
Above 50years 59 29.5
3 Tribe Yoruba 188 94.0
Igbo 10 5.0
Hausa 2 1.0
4 Marital status Single 34 17.0
Married 120 60.0
Divorced 33 16.5
Widowed 13 6.5
5 Household size 1-4 77 38.5
4-8 82 41
Above 8 41 20.5
6 Religion Islam 72 36.0
Christianity 105 52.5
Others 23 11.5
7 Occupation Farmer 61 30.50
Trader 76 38.0
Civil Servant 24 5.5
Artesian 52 26.0

Table 2 shows the respondents’ bushmeat consumption rate. Most of the respondents (86.5%) eat bushmeat while 13.5% does not. There is a significant relationship between bushmeat consumption and respondents’ age (P < 0.001). Older people are likely to eat bushmeat than the young in the study area. Majority of the respondents (65%) prefer bushmeat to any other source of protein. There is a significant relationship between gender, age, household size and consumer preference for bushmeat. Male respondents prefer bushmeat than any other meat sources. Also, 55% of the respondents had been consuming bushmeat for a period of 11 to 30 years showcasing that bushmeat is an integral part of their daily protein consumption for decades. The length of consumption is significantly related to the age of the respondent (P < 0.05). Majority of the respondents (42.5%) noted that they prefer bushmeat to another meat source because it is highly nutritious, although 21% of the households prefer bushmeat because it is readily available. Majority of the respondents spent 1000 naira on the average on bushmeat per month. Money spent on bushmeat is not significantly (P<0.05) related to household size (figure 1). Figure 2, shows that majority of the respondents (81%) noted that the bushmeat is generally more available during the dry season than the raining season (19%). Table 2: Consumption rate of bushmeat by respondents Figure 1: Household size stratify with the amount spent on bushmeat Figure 2: Distribution of bushmeat consumption according to seasons Table 3 shows the distribution of animals consumed by their IUCN red list status. Majority of the animals consumed belong to the least concern category on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red-list. This implies that their population is not threatened. However, Pangolin accounts for 3% of the total bushmeat consumed in the area despite its vulnerability status by IUCN. Cane rats (18%), Antelopes (15%) and Giant rats (9%) were the most consumed animals in the study area. Table 3: Distribution of bushmeat consumed by their IUCN red list status IUCN red list status Common name Scientific name Local name Freq. % Least Concern Snake (Mamba) Dendroaspis polylepis Sebe 10 5 Ground squirrel Xerusery thropus Ikun 6 3 Rabbit Lepuscapensis zechii Emo 10 5 Antelopes Hippotragus equines Agbagudu 30 15 Nile crocodile Crocodillus niloticus Oni 8 4 Tree squirrel Funisciurus pyrrhopus Okere 8 4 Bush buck Tragelaphus scriptus Igala 7 3.5 Nile rat Arvicanthis niloticus Emo 14 7 Crested porcupine Hystrix cristata Oore 12 6 Giant Rat Cricetomys gambianus Okete 18 9 Slender mongoose Herpestess anguineus Kolokolo 2 1 Cane Rat Thryonomys swinderianus Oya 36 18 Maxwell’s duiker Philantom bamaxwellii Etu 13 6.5 Not enlisted Nile monitor Lizard Varanus niloticus Awonriwon 4 2 African giant Snails Archachatina marginata. Igbin 12 6 Black-Nicked Spitting Cobra Naja nigricollis Agbaji 4 2 Vulnerable White-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis Aika 6 3 5. Discussion Bushmeat is an important source of protein and income in rural areas particularly in West Africa (Nazi and Fa, 2014; Ibitoye et al. 2019). This study reveals the interactions between rural people and bushmeat having in mind the need to protect wild animals in the forest. Most of the respondents were in their productive age, indicating that most people involved in bushmeat value chain are in their active age (Soaga et al., 2014). The respondents include 56% male and 44% female; this is because both male and female respondents were involved in the bushmeat value chain. Men were commonly found hunting while women often cook the delicacies for the households or processed it for sale. Yusuf and Ajiboye, (2014 ) suggest that Men’s physical attributes in terms of body size and upper body strength give them an edge over their women counterpart in roles such as hunting. Majority of the respondents (94%) were Yoruba tribe, this can be attributed to the geographical location of the study area which is in the western part of the country dominated by the Yoruba tribe. Bushmeat is one of the choice meats in the study area, 86.5% of the respondents eat bushmeat. This conforms to the findings of Tee et al (2012), who noted that 84% of Nigerian communities consume bushmeat and that it accounts for a larger ratio of the animal protein being consumed. Also, Abebrese, (2014) said bushmeat contributes between 20% and 90% of the animal protein eaten in many regions of Africa. The consumption of bushmeats by respondents in the study area has provided low-cost health care services for them as it is perceived to have some medicinal advantage for consumers due to its low cholesterol level. Respondents’ age is significantly related to whether they eat bushmeat or not. The urge to eat bushmeat increases with increase in age. This result is contrary to the report of Hema et al.,(2017) that bushmeat consumption is independent of age and gender. However, the location of their study differs from this report. Consumer preference for bushmeat is high in the study area, 65% of those who eat bushmeat prefer it than any other choice meat. Asuk et al, (2017) support this claim by stating that animal in the wild often tastes better than those who are not wild. Ogogo et al., (2017) reported that grasscutter in the wild is more palatable than in captive; they further stated that the change in the taste is due to the variety of diet they are exposed to in the wild. Respondents in the study area have been eating bushmeat for more than 30years, indicating that inhabitants of the study area relish bushmeat because it is perceived to be very nutritious. Nasi and Fa, (2014) supported this claim by saying wildlife meat is rich in energy, protein, and micronutrients in good quantity. The amount spent on bushmeat consumption can be attributed to the income level of the respondents whose predominant occupation is subsistence farming and petty trading. Although a number of the respondents may be involved in hunting of bushmeat for family consumption. Hence, they pay little to nothing on bushmeat purchase. Money spent on bushmeat is not significantly related to household size (P>0.05), this is because a large household does not determine the amount of money available to the household. Bushmeat was hunted more in the dry season since the animal has little shelter to cover and hide. Most animals killed in this area were caught dead using hunting guns, poisonous substances, and traps. A number of these animals might have died for days before the hunter could pick them up, consuming this type of animals may call for health concerns due to food contaminants.
The majority of the animals consumed as bushmeat in the area are not threatened by extinction; however, there are need to educate the inhabitant of this area on Pangolin conservation whose population is vulnerable. Ingram et al., (2019) stated a total of 55893kg of pangolin scales in a total of 33 seizures between 2012 and 2018 with Nigeria and Cameron being the most exporting countries. Public enlightenment on the need to conserve pangolin is urgently needed. Some other conservation concern raised by this research is the perception that bushmeat is common and can be found everywhere. With this mindset, animals will be killed in an uncontrolled manner.

6. Conclusions
There are great demands for wild animals in the study area due to the rurality of the location. Empirical evidence from this study indicates that bushmeat is one of the main sources of protein and other nutritional requirements for the people in the study area. The inhabitants of this area are predominantly farmers. Some farmers also combine farming with hunting in order to increase the household income and nutritional supplement. The consumption of bushmeats by respondents in the study area has provided low-cost health care services for them due to its low cholesterol level. Wildlife helps in controlling malnutrition as a result of protein deficiency. Bushmeat consumption and its preference are significantly related to age and gender. Illegal hunting and not taking into consideration conversation of small game animals such as snakes, bushbuck, antelope, Duiker, ground squirrel, giant rat, trees squirrel, cane rat amongst others goes a long way in facilitating the extinction of such species. Pangolin was still highly consumed despite its vulnerability status on the IUCN red list.

7. Recommendations
Based on the concluding remarks that emerged from the study, the following recommendations are made in order to achieve availability of bushmeat for the consumption of people in the study area.
a. Domestication and multiplication of desirable species must be done to reduce hunting pressure, while at the same time meeting the demand of the public for consumption.
b. The government should provide resources to encourage micro wildlife farms for multiplication and domestication of wildlife as a means of creating employment.
c. The strategies for killing bush meat, especially the use of poisons should be discouraged through a very strong penalty for the health safety of the consumers.
d. Other sources of protein should be available to the people of the study area to prevent the extinction of wild animals due to hunting pressure.
e. Public enlightenment and education regarding wildlife conservation should be promoted in rural areas.

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