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Structure and Operation of a Bushmeat Commodity Chain in Southwestern Ghana

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The bushmeat trade is perceived as a major threat to wild animal populations in the tropics. Little is known of how the trade is organized, however, or of the actors involved in it, impeding the development of effective conservation policy. We investigated the structure and operation of a bushmeat commodity chain in West Africa that supplies a typical urban market, the city of Takoradi in southwestern Ghana. Data were collected from January through February 2000, describing 2430 bushmeat transactions encompassing 17 different taxa from 70 different actors, through a combination of direct observation and semistructured interviews. Five different types of actor traded along the commodity chain: commercial hunters, farmer hunters, wholesalers, market traders, and chopbar (cafe) owners. Bushmeat was traded freely among all these actors, although the primary trade route for terrestrial mammals was from commercial hunters via wholesalers to chopbars. In contrast, invertebrates were only traded by farmer hunters, market traders, and chopbars. Wholesalers captured the largest per capita share of the market (4% of all sales were handled by each wholesaler), whereas the most important vendors were chopbars, which as a group made 85% of all bushmeat sales to the public. Variation in the price of bushmeat was largely explained by transport costs and taste preferences. Transport costs were most significant for hunters and greatest on long journeys involving large loads. Nevertheless, hunters obtained the greatest income per kilogram of bushmeat sold of all actor groups. Our results suggest that there is no single best entry point along the bushmeat commodity chain for conservation intervention. On the contrary, the successful monitoring and management of the bushmeat trade is likely to require a multiactor approach that encompasses most or all actor groups.
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Keywords: bushmeat trade; cadena de abastecimiento; carne silvestre; cazador; dinámica de una cadena de comercialización de carne silvestre; hunter; supply chain

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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