A bioeconomic analysis of bushmeat hunting

R. Damania, E. J. Milner-Gulland, D. J. Crookes

Abstract

Unsustainable bushmeat hunting is a major threat to mammal species, particularly in West/Central Africa. We developed a multispecies dynamic simulation model of hunter behaviour, parameterized using data from the Ashanti region, Ghana. The model distinguishes between two hunting techniques, snaring and gun hunting. We analyse the impact of key economic parameters on off–takes. Economic incentives determine the effort devoted to hunting, the choice of hunting technique, and the species that are consumed domestically or traded in markets. These factors, together with the growth rates and catchabilities of hunted species, determine the ecological impact of hunting. The results suggest that increased bushmeat prices are likely to lead to a switch from snaring, which is cheaper but less efficient, to gun hunting, with a consequent impact on vulnerable species. Increases in agricultural prices have an ambiguous effect on hunter behaviour, depending on the balance between incentives to invest in agriculture and increased consumption as incomes improve. Penalties are more effective if they target bushmeat sales, rather than the act of hunting. This model represents a step forward because it explicitly considers bushmeat as a component of the household economy. This has important implications as regards the development of policies to conserve species hunted for bushmeat.

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