Category Archives: Bushmeat East Africa

Experts: Bushmeat a Major Issue in Eastern Africa

 BEAN Press Release: Experts Agree Bushmeat a Major Issue in Eastern Africa

On 7th & 8th December 2009, 34 experts representing 22 different conservation organizations, development organizations and government agencies from Kenya, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, and Uganda assembled in Kampala, Uganda to discuss bushmeat (the illegal and unsustainable hunting of wildlife for meat and income). The participants shared information on challenges, ongoing solutions and future needs to address the bushmeat problem in Eastern Africa.

Despite the best efforts of governments, NGOs, the private sector and local communities to address threats to wildlife and their habitats, these threats continue and in some cases increase. These experts agreed that bushmeat is one of the leading threats to wildlife and livelihoods and must be addressed using every means possible.

Click the link below to read the press release;


BEAN – Bushmeat-free Eastern Africa Network introduction

The Bushmeat-free Eastern Africa Network (BEAN) was unveiled on Wednesday 24th at WWF US, Washington DC. Below are photos taken during the presentations and the luncheon.

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Mwenja presenting on Bushmeat in Eastern Africa


Networking during the luncheon

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The Director and the Deputy Director of BCTF celebrating 10 years of BCTF

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ABCG Coordinator Ms. Nancy Gelman

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BEAN Director Dr William Olupot

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MENTOR Fellow Mr. Vincent Opyene presenting

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Painful death. Part 1

Hunting using wire snares is a very destructive and indiscriminate method of hunting that result in the killing of many untargeted species. Research has also shown that up to 90% of the animals caught go to waste as they rot before the hunter comes to check on his snares.

However, it is the painful death that this method inflicts on the animals caught that leave many animal lovers horrified. A snared animal takes many days before it eventually dies as you can see below. They die of starvation and physical injuries and not necessarily chocking as most people think.

Why is this method popular with poachers? Because the risk of being caught is low, wires are locally available, require little effort and investment. But it lead to a huge lose of wildlife, including endangered species like cheetahs, elephants, wild dogs, etc. That is why in Kenya organizations like Bornfree Foundation, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Youth for Conservation, ANAW etc have launched massive desnaring campaigns around the bushmeat hot spots in the country, mainly around the Tsavos, kajiado, Machakos, Mt Kenya, Masai Mara, Machakos, Taita and Naivasha.

Critics of this methods have sometimes raised doubt on the success of these program given that poachers have been known to double their effort once their snares are removed, while lately, they have devised new methods that are more efficient e.g. using a bright torch and a car horn at night to dazzle animals before killings them. What is not in doubt though is that fact that for every snare removed, an animal is saved!

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cheetah snared

Snared impala

Snared Impala

Sanred Kudu

snared Dik dik

Iregi Mwenja

Bushmeat Researcher

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Bushmeat in the ‘Swara’ Magazine

The September issue of ‘Swara’ the East African Wildlife Magazine is out. On the upfront section where upcoming stories in the next issue are introduced, there is a small article on Bushmeat which serves as an introduction to the findings of a Bushmeat assessment I conducted in April-May this year. I will be running the full article on the assessment in the December issue. Since the ‘Swara’ is not published online, I have here below pasted a snapshot of the article for the benefit of those of you who may not get a copy of the magazine.

Iregi Mwenja

Project Coordinator

Bushmeat awareness and advocacy project

Click on the image to view it clearlySwara article.jpg

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Food or slaughter? Bushmeat fuels wildlife debate

The dependency on bushmeat in Central and West Africa is higher compared to East Africa where the more open Savannah’s gives more room for livestock production and crop farming. In the Congo basin, most communities have relied on wild meat for food for centuries but the situation has been compounded by rising human population, opening up of the forests by logging companies and commercialization of the commodity. Across West and central Africa, the trade is worth as much as $200 million, and $175 million in Latin America’s Amazon basin. In East Africa, the trade is worth far much less but we cannot afford to continue ignoring such a serious problem especially now that research has shown that bushmeat is no longer a subsistence activity but a source of thriving illegal trade that involves more people than previously thought.

In Kenya, some conservationist are still in a state of denial as some still hold to the old belief that bushmeat utilization is still at a subsistent level only. However, several research findings available show that poaching for bushmeat is the second greatest direct cause of decline in wild animal population after habitat loss. In spite of this, we still maintain the restrictive non-consumptive policy that is remain very insensitive to the poor and those hosting wildlife.

According to a report by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (Read the report below) “blanket bans on wild meat consumption is bound to fail and, if enforced, deprive poor families living in forest regions of much-needed nutrition and cash earnings. Legalizing parts of the bushmeat trade could dispel the stigma attached to it, aid regulation and help efforts to save endangered species”.

It is the high time that we wake up to this reality here in Kenya and start openly discussing about the socio-economic and ecological implication of the ongoing illegal poaching of wildlife for meat, so that we can come up with an acceptable and sustainable position that safeguards both the interest of the communities and wildlife.

Please read the article on the CBD report below and gives your comment on what you think is the best way forward for Kenya.

Iregi Mwenja

USFWS MENTOR Fellow on Bushmeat in East Africa

In this Blog, the word “Bushmeat” refers to meat from wild animals that is illegally obtained or unsustainbly harvested.

Food or slaughter? Bushmeat fuels wildlife debate Tue 16 sept. 2008

By Tansa Musa

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – An acrid stench of burning hair hangs in the air as a whole monkey roasts over an open fire, a victim of the trade in tropical “bushmeat” that conservationists agree must be curbed, though they disagree how to do it.

Around 25 diners sit on bamboo chairs at this open air restaurant on the outskirts of Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, waiting for a plate of monkey, pangolin or bush pig washed down with red wine, beer or aromatic freshly tapped palm wine.

Environmentalists say the hunting and trade of endangered animals from the world’s tropical forests must be reduced if rare primates and other species are to be saved from extinction.

Some campaigners want a total ban on bushmeat or at least on its commercial trade. This would allow local people to hunt only fast-breeding, non-endangered species to feed their families.

But a report published on Tuesday said such blanket bans would fail and, if enforced, deprive poor families living in forest regions of much-needed nutrition and cash earnings.

The report by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity said legalising parts of the bushmeat trade could dispel the stigma attached to it, aid regulation and help efforts to save endangered species.

“Bushmeat, in particular, offers a number of benefits to forest-dwelling populations. It is an easily traded resource as it is transportable, has a high value/weight ratio and is easily preserved at low cost,” the report said.

A survey a few years ago estimated 70-90 tonnes of bushmeat a month were being sold in Yaounde’s four main markets. Across West and central Africa, the trade is worth as much as $200 million, and $175 million in Latin America’s Amazon basin.

Supporters of a more general ban say regulating sales of some animals but not others would be too complicated.

“Hunting and trade that is sustainable for a cane rat is not necessarily sustainable for an ape,” Heather Eves, director of the Washington-based Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, told Reuters.

“There isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest that there is the financial or technical capacity or political will to assure a regulated trade that could effectively assure a sustainable trade of just rats and not apes,” she said.


The international trade in bushmeat is small but there is growing expatriate African and Asian demand, the report said.

Often it is linked to the lucrative global trade in animal body parts believed to have secret powers or employed in medicines, such as gorilla meat or rhino horn — long used as aphrodisiacs.

Smart cars parked outside an exclusive restaurant in Yaounde bear witness to the bushmeat trade’s wealthy connections.

Elegant waitresses offer patrons a menu of mainly common game — pangolin, antelope, bush pig, monkey, cane rat and viper — at prices of 5,000-10,000 CFA francs a dish.

But in a fridge outside, a Reuters reporter saw two arms of what appeared to be a gorilla or a chimpanzee — thick black fur and hands still attached — together with a piece of what a restaurant employee said was elephant meat.

“If you want to eat meat of big animals like chimpanzee, gorilla and even the elephant, you make a special arrangement with her and she will supply it to you,” a military officer who frequents the restaurant said of the owner.

“She has hired hunters in forest village communities to whom she supplies ammunition and they supply the meat,” he said.

Cameroon has some of the region’s strictest anti-hunting laws. Critics say that, as elsewhere, they are rarely applied.

“It is outrageous that the majority of these countries do not even have a single prosecution,” said Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization Cameroon.

“If the wildlife trade was the drugs trade, then central Africa would be like me and you sitting in Bogata,” he said.

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Poachers kill 249 animals in SAfrica’s Kruger park

Poachers kill 249 animals in SAfrica's Kruger park

12th May 2008

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Poachers have killed 249 animals in South Africa's
largest game park, Kruger, in the last four years, including at least
white rhinos, an opposition parliamentarian said on Sunday, quoting
official figures.

"A reply to a DA (Democratic Alliance) parliamentary question to the
minister of environmental affairs and tourism has revealed that over
last four years at least 44 white rhinos and 31 buffaloes were killed
poachers," Gareth Morgan said in a statement.

"The jewel in the crown of South African conservation, the Kruger
National Park, is the hotspot for poaching of mammals among the various
parks managed by the South African National Parks. In total 249 mammals
were killed by poachers in Kruger during this (2004 and 2007) period,"
he said.

Morgan, DA's spokesperson on environmental affairs, later told AFP that
the figures "were provided to me by the minister on Friday in a written
reply to my query on the issue".

He said that the Kruger figures might be much higher as "many of the
animals killed by poachers disappear without a trace".

Kruger National Park has the ability to monitor poaching, unlike a
majority of the other 21 parks in the country, he said.

A total of 8,665 marine species were poached last year at the Table
Mountain National Park, compared with 4,578 in 2006 and 3,378 in 2005.

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Welcome to the Bushmeat blog

Many people associate me with primates’ conservation following the highly publicised breakthrough discovery of an isolated population of de Brazza’s monkey in northern Kenya. The de Brazza’s monkey is rare and highly threatened in Kenya. Until the discovery, western Kenya was a known eastern limit of the species distribution in Africa. The unique location where this new population is found – isolated mountain ranges of the arid north 200 km away from the hitherto known population and occurring to the East of the Great Valley, led to speculation of speciation and hence the great interest in this discovery.

However, I am not here to talk about monkey discovery in this bushmeat blog. The point I want to drive home is that I am not new to wildlife conservation and success for that matter and whatever I have achieved in the past is only a measure of the minimum.

To make sure I succeed in bushmeat, I decided to expand my knowledge and capacity to pilot bushmeat projects in Kenya by enrolling for a post-graduate course on Bushmeat under the prestigious MENTOR Fellowship program. The MENTOR (Mentoring for ENvironmental Training in Outreach and Resource Conservation) Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the College of African Wildlife Management- Mweka, Tanzania, and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group to train and build the capacities of emerging conservation leaders in order to build a network of eastern Africa wildlife professionals who can lead efforts to reduce illegal and unsustainable bushmeat exploitation at local and regional levels. I am one of the eight Fellows under this program.


The 8 MENTOR Fellows, 4 Mentors, the Program Coordinator USFWS Official and BCTF Director

More high profile African wildlife issues have long overshadowed illegal bushmeat exploitation. The illegal use of wild meat (bushmeat) is perhaps the least documented, but most far-reaching use of wildlife in eastern and southern Africa. It is believed to involve more people and to have a greater effect on wild animal populations, including those in protected areas, than any other wildlife activity. Due to lack of information, the problem is not getting the attention it deserves and very little has done so far.

Today, Bushmeat off take in Kenya is still seen as subsistence activity that has no impact on wildlife population. I beg to differ and that is the reason why I have started this blog to show you just how significant the level of bushmeat off take is in Kenya and the entire East Africa. Bushmeat use in Kenya is no longer a subsistence activity but a highly profitable illegal trade.

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yfc.jpg photos credit YFC and DSWT

Iregi Mwenja