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The importance of bushmeat in the livelihoods of cocoa farmers living in a wildlife depleted farm-forest landscape, SW Ghana

Schulte-Herbruggen, B.; (2012) The importance of bushmeat in the livelihoods of cocoa farmers living in a wildlife depleted farm-forest landscape, SW Ghana. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Bushmeat is an important source of cash income and animal protein in rural sub-Saharan Africa. However, hunting levels are largely unsustainable, resulting in the widespread depletion and local extinction of prey species. This is a problem for both the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of rural African communities. This thesis investigates the consequences of wildlife depletion for the livelihood security of Ghanaian cocoa farmers with diversified incomes. The overarching hypothesis that runs through the study is that the importance of bushmeat in livelihoods increases with household vulnerability (i.e. poor households and female-headed households), especially during the agricultural lean season. The study is based primarily on repeated socio-economic questionnaires (N=804), conducted over twelve months among 63 households inWansampo: an agricultural community situated in a forest reserve in SW Ghana. The research found that the amount of bushmeat harvested was low and limited to smallbodied species, suggesting severe depletion of wildlife populations around the study village. Protein insecurity and income poverty were widespread but neither co-varied strongly with household vulnerability. While income poverty was highest during the lean season, total protein consumption/security did not vary across seasons. Hunting was efficiently integrated into agricultural activities, with bushmeat being a minor part of household income and protein consumption. Contrary to expectations, household vulnerability had little effect on the importance of bushmeat in livelihoods. However, during the lean season, the bushmeat harvest increased. Since most bushmeat was consumed by the hunter’s household, the relative dietary importance of bushmeat was highest during the lean season, enabling households to reduce their meat/fish expenditures while maintaining protein consumption levels. Moreover, when income shortages were highest, bushmeat sales increased, preventing some households from falling into income poverty. In summary, despite local wildlife depletion, the importance of bushmeat for both income and protein security increased during the lean season. This suggests that bushmeat is an important safety-net for some households in this community. The thesis concludes by outlining the study’s limitations, before suggesting further research and policy implications.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The importance of bushmeat in the livelihoods of cocoa farmers living in a wildlife depleted farm-forest landscape, SW Ghana
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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