Examining the Contributing Factors to the Bushmeat Trade and Crisis in Ghana
The paper examines contributory factors facilitating the Bushmeat trade in Ghana, reveals the multiplicity and complex nature of the trade, some conservation decentralized trading platform measures attempted to control the trade and crisis and suggests avenues for future research and policy makeovers.
Keywords: Bushmeat, Ghana, Crisis, Wildlife, Trade
The unsustainable and illegal harvest of bushmeat occurring at a commercial scale is a primary threat facing many wildlife species in Ghana today. Bushmeat, the meat of wild animals, is a highly valuable wildlife commodity in Ghana and has gone from traditional, subsistence to mainly commercial trade. By some estimate, Ntiamoa-Baidu, 1998, found that the once traditional way of life, has evolved into a $350 million dollar industry in Ghana that threatens endangered animals driving several primate species in the Upper Guinea forest to the brink of extinction. This has come at an enormous cost to a country that lacks the resources to assure sustainable management of their natural resource potential. Distinctive amongst the species is the Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus Monkey (Procolobus Badius Waldroni), a primate taxon endemic to the forest regions of Ghana and enlisted as extinct by IUCN Red List 2006.
Obviously the current unsustainable pattern appears to be the outcome of overexploitation evidenced by the extensive outtake of species. The multiplicity and complex nature of the trade suggest various contributing factors facilitating the bushmeat crisis. I examine these factors, reveal some avenues for policy makeovers and suggest opportunities for future research.
2 General Background
The ‘bushmeat crisis’ is a term without succinct definition. A much general definition would be the unsustainable exploitation of wildlife for human consumption leading to widespread loss of wildlife populations, further endangerment of species, and diminished livelihoods for current and future generations of wildlife-dependent communities. It is an agonizing topic for anyone concerned for wildlife. In a distant past, large areas of Ghana’s forest and savanna lands supported significant and diverse populations of wild animals and were the main source of animal protein, biogenetic resources, a symbol of cultural identity and ethnic origin. (Conservation International, Ghana, 2005).
Today in Ghana a rather brutal slaughter is going on, only this time, instead of arable farm animals the victims are the monkeys, porcupines, and duikers etc, locally called ‘nwuramunam’ . Bushmeat trade, in the manner currently operated is equal not only to the illegal trade in exotic wildlife but the illegal drug trade which emphasize more on profits of trade. The multibillion-dollar trade in bushmeat according to Brashares et al., 2004, is among the most immediate threats to the persistence of tropical vertebrates, with minimal empirical data and understanding on the underlying drivers and effects on human welfare.