Hunting vulnerability, ecological characteristics and harvest rates of bushmeat species in afrotropical forests

John E. Fa, Sarah F. Ryan, Diana J. Bell

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We reviewed and analysed patterns and between-site variation in hunter-kill profiles of mammals in tropical moist forests in west and central Africa. Published data from 36 sites in seven countries were used. A total of 71 mammals from 8 orders and 22 families were hunted. Significant variation was found in number of species exploited, but ungulates constituted 73.2% of all hunted animals. Rodents and primates contributed 12.2% and 12.0%, respectively. Large-bodied species (15.0–99.9 kg) represented over half (54.4%) of the total hunted biomass. Most species were snared, and were generally medium-sized, fast, terrestrial, frugivore–herbivores. By species, we showed using meta-analysis, that abundance was the main predictor of harvest level. But, the relationship between hunter presence (calculated as average hunter numbers operating per 100 days) and hunter ease (an index of catchability of the hunted fauna) and site harvest levels was shown to be significant only for hunter ease. Site harvest rates were higher in areas with more hunter presence. Overall, an average of 2000 carcasses (16,000 kg in weight) per site was extracted in a year. Per hunter, this amounted to 200 carcasses (1000 kg) extracted. Such amounts fall within reported unsustainable harvest levels of the mammalian fauna in African forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

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