Bushmeat: Culture, Economy, and Conservation in Central Africa

This excellent introduction to the cultural, economic, and health implications of bushmeat shows that eating a wide assortment of animals is a way of life in much of central Africa. People in this region grill, roast, stew, and smoke a variety of wild mammals, birds, and reptiles. For people outside the main cities, bushmeat provides an important source of calories and protein. But even city dwellers partake; Trefon argues that eating wildlife allows urbanites to renew ties to a sense of their origins, to assert kin, culture, and home. Trefon is sympathetic to the cultural appeal of bushmeat, but his book makes clear that current levels of consumption are unsustainable. As human populations rise and the forest recedes, finite supplies of bushmeat are fast being depleted. Trefon is deeply pessimistic that policies can be devised to protect wildlife as long as bushmeat remains an important source of nutrition; governments in the region have limited capacity to regulate the complex networks of actors who bring bushmeat from the forest to the dinner table.

About the author

Professor Theodore Trefon is the Vice President of the Academic & Scientific Board of CERIS (since 2016). He is the Director of the Belgian Reference Centre for Expertise for Central Africa E-CA — CRE-AC) and heads the Contemporary History Section of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. He teaches at ERAIFT “Ecole Régionale Post-Universitaire d’Aménagement et de Gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires tropicaux” at the University of Kinshasa. His area of expertise coves DR Congo and he focuses on the issues of state-society relations, forest-city links, urban anthropology and environmental governance. He is also a Research Coordinator for the Forest-City Interface dimension of APFT. Among his published books we cite: Parcours administratifs dans un Etat en faillite: Récits de Lubumbashi (RDC), Les Cahiers de l’Institut Africain/L’Harmattan (with B. Ngoy) and Re-inventing Order in the Congo: How people respond to state failure in Kinshasa, (ZED Books, 2004).