Analysis of Patterns of Bushmeat Consumption Reveals Extensive Exploitation of Protected Species in Eastern Madagascar

Richard K. B. Jenkins, Aidan Keane, Andrinajoro R. Rakotoarivelo, Victor Rakotomboavonjy, Felicien H. Randrianandrianina, H. Julie Razafimanahaka, Sylvain R. Ralaiarimalala, Julia P. G. Jones, Tapio Mappes (Editor)

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Understanding the patterns of wild meat consumption from tropical forests is important for designing approaches to address this major threat to biodiversity and mitigate potential pathways for transmission of emerging diseases. Bushmeat consumption has been particularly poorly studied in Madagascar, one of the world's hottest biodiversity hotspots. Studying bushmeat consumption is challenging as many species are protected and researchers must consider the incentives faced by informants. Using interviews with 1154 households in 12 communes in eastern Madagascar, as well as local monitoring data, we investigated the importance of socio-economic variables, taste preference and traditional taboos on consumption of 50 wild and domestic species. The majority of meals contain no animal protein. However, respondents consume a wide range of wild species and 95% of respondents have eaten at least one protected species (and nearly 45% have eaten more than 10). The rural/urban divide and wealth are important predictors of bushmeat consumption, but the magnitude and direction of the effect varies between species. Bushmeat species are not preferred and are considered inferior to fish and domestic animals. Taboos have provided protection to some species, particularly the Endangered Indri, but we present evidence that this taboo is rapidly eroding. By considering a variety of potential influences on consumption in a single study we have improved understanding of who is eating bushmeat and why. Evidence that bushmeat species are not generally preferred meats suggest that projects which increase the availability of domestic meat and fish may have success at reducing demand. We also suggest that enforcement of existing wildlife and firearm laws should be a priority, particularly in areas undergoing rapid social change. The issue of hunting as an important threat to biodiversity in Madagascar is only now being fully recognised. Urgent action is required to ensure that heavily hunted species are adequately protected.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27570
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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