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Contrasts in availability and consumption of animal protein in Bioko Island, West Africa: the role of bushmeat


27 January 2006 Science News

Environmental Conservation | Lise Albrechtsen | January 2006

Most protein in sub-Saharan Africa comes from animal sources, a significant proportion of this from wild species or bushmeat. Availability of protein sources to human populations in Africa has not been studied before, perhaps because most population centres are too large for data collection to be practicable. Assessment of the availability and consumption of animal protein within the city of Malabo (c. 60 000 inhabitants), Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, included estimation of the annual animal protein supply to the city from daily counts of small livestock meats (goat, pork, lamb, duck, chicken), beef, fish and bushmeat (December 2003–March 2004) in the city’s central market and other selling points, and the animal protein consumption per adult male equivalent (AME) derived from a sample of around 200 households to explore influence of household income on consumption of different protein sources. Current animal protein production (bushmeat, small livestock meats, beef and fish) in Bioko, and potential production needed to supply adequate amounts of protein to the people of Malabo in the future were calculated. Annually around 2100 t of meat/fish (460 t of animal protein) was available, of which only 7% was produced on the island. Consumption patterns indicated that largersized households purchased more meat, but protein intake per AME fell significantly with household size. Income was positively correlated with volume of small livestock meats consumed per household, but negatively related with bushmeat eaten. Income did not influence beef or fish consumption per household. Although the island is capable of producing more alternative meats, it cannot sustain itself on local production and will therefore continue to be dependent on importing a large proportion of meat (and protein). There is no dependency on bushmeat species, but current rates of wild species use can still have a dramatic impact on wildlife populations on the island if left unabated. Alternative ways of ensuring sufficient protein supply for the Malabo population are crucial for wildlife conservation, and curbing consumption of bushmeat species is of highest conservation priority now.

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