Assessment of Bushmeat Exploitation by Hunters in Ifon Area of Ondo State, Nigeria
This study looked into Assessing the Bushmeat Exploitation by hunters in Ifon Area of Ondo State. A complete set of Questionnaire was designed and administered to 30 hunters in the area. Personal visits and observation was made, while discussions and interviews are made use of to collate information on the study area. The Data collected was analyzed using Descriptive Statistics which includes Frequency Distribution and Percentage, Measure of Central Tendency and Measure of Dispersion. The Results revealed the bushmeat species consumed, their level of awareness with regard to the negative impact that Bushmeat Exploitation had on Wildlife Conservation was very low. As urban populations continue to grow and economies revitalize, unless action is taken to alter the demand for and supply of bushmeat, Ifon Area of Ondo State will be progressively stripped of certain wildlife species, risking their extirpation or extinction, and the loss of values they confer to local economies. Consequently, it is essential that, logging companies are encouraged or coerced not to facilitate bushmeat hunting and transportation in their concessions. Social marketing activities should be put in place to attempt to direct consumer preferences for animal protein away from bushmeat species that are particularly susceptible to over-exploitation.
Keywords: Bushmeat, Bushmeat Exploitation, Wildlife Conservation, Social Marketing.
In Africa, uninhabited forest is often referred to as ‘the bush’, thus wildlife and the meat derived from it is referred to as ‘bushmeat’ (in Yoruba- Eran Ìgbé). This term applies to all wildlife species, a number of which are threatened or endangered species, used for meat including: elephant; gorilla; chimpanzee and primates; forest antelope (duikers); porcupine, bush pig; cane rat; pangolin; monitor lizard; guinea fowl; etc. Bush-meat generally refers to meat from wildlife sources or undomesticated animals which are normally consumed in place of meat from domestic or livestock origin. NEST (1991) defined bush meat as the flesh of wild and undomesticated animals. Bush meat, the meat of wild animals is one of the most valuable tropical forest products after timber. It is an important source of protein, widely consumed in both rural and urban areas (Wilkie and Carpenter, 1999). The magnitude of its exploitation and consumption however varies from one place to the other and is determined principally by its availability, but this is also influenced by government control on hunting, socio economic status and cultural prohibitions (Asibey, 1999). Bush meat has been part of the local diet for centuries (Grubb et al., 1998). National estimates of the value of the domestic trade in bush meat range from US$42 to US$205 million across countries in West and Central Africa (Davies, 2002). Ayodele, et al, (1999) postulated that the supply of Bush meat from wild sources no doubt serves as the only possible measure to bridge the gap between livestock production and human population growth.
Though habitat loss is often cited as the primary cause of wildlife extinction, commercial hunting for the meat of wild animals has become an immediate threat to the future of wildlife in Ifon Area of Ondo State and around the world. However, in recent years, there has been an important transition from subsistence to commercial hunting and trading of wildlife because of accelerating population growth, modernisation of hunting techniques, and greater accessibility to remote forest areas. (APE ALLIANCE, 1998; WILKIE & CARPENTER, 1999). Bushmeat and pet trade are often by-products of hunting. Commercial exploitation of Bushmeat has reached a crisis situation in Africa leading to the formation of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF) with the vision of eliminating the unsustainable, illegal, Commercial Bushmeat trade. Sustainable exploitation of natural resources requires that levels of off-take be lower than the rate of production. This is rarely the situation with Bushmeat enterprise in any part of West Africa. Over exploitation of wildlife resources leads to impoverishment of local people through the destruction of wildlife habitats, wildlife based economy, environmental degradation and loss biodiversity. (Ayeni and Mdaihli, 2003; Madzou and Ebanega, 2006).
In tropical areas world–wide the meat of wild animals has long been part of the staple diet of forest–dwelling peoples. However, in recent years, there has been an important transition from subsistence to commercial hunting and trading of wildlife because of accelerating population growth, modernisation of hunting techniques, and greater accessibility to remote forest areas (APE ALLIANCE, 1998; WILKIE & CARPENTER, 1999). In Africa, bushmeat is sold for public consumption either fresh or smoked. Bushmeat remains the primary source of animal protein for the majority of forest families, and can also constitute a significant source of revenue (JUSTE et al. 1995). The high demand for bushmeat and the lucrative trade associated with it is the main reason for the high extraction rates estimated for many West and Central African countries (FA & PERES, 2001). Although changes from subsistence to commercial hunting have been occurring for some time (HART, 2000), many more hunters currently supplement their incomes with the sale of meat. Such commerce increases the amount of hunting and reduces the sustainability of numerous wildlife species largely because it enlarges the effective human population density of consumers eating meat from an area of forest (BENNETT & ROBINSON, 2000). Commercial hunters and traders supply urban markets for profit to meet the increasing demand for animal protein in urban centres. Markets in towns and cities are the main sales–point for species extracted from natural areas (FA, 2000; FA et al., 1995).
The study was carried out in Ifon; the headquarters and seal of government of Osẹ Local Government Area of Ondo State of Nigeria. Ifon is a junction town with two axes to Edo State and one to the rest of Ondo State. It lies at about the mid-point on the Federal Highway that connects Akurẹ and Benin City. Located on an elevated terrain, a view from the center of the town confirms the beauty of the surrounding vegetation and the richness of the Ifon land. Ifon is blessed with many minerals resources e.g. Kaolin, granite etc. There are also abundant forest resources like timber and games reserve. Ifon games reserve is one of the well-known reserves in Nigeria.
Descriptive Statistics which includes Frequency Distribution and Percentages (%), Measure of Central Tendency (Mean, Median & Mode) and Measure of Dispersion (Standard Deviation and Variance) were used to analyze the data.