The Great Primate Handshake
Bushmeat Beekeeping
Population growth and socioeconomic change have created an unsustainable commercial trade in bushmeat across western and central Africa.

‘Bushmeat’ is an African term for the meat of wild animals and refers to all terrestrial vertebrates consumed in tropical areas. This encompasses a vast array of species from cane rats to chimpanzees.

Although bushmeat hunting is a traditional means of subsistence for forest dwelling people, demand for bushmeat from urban centres has encouraged individuals from rural communities with few income earning opportunities to hunt for profit.

Ungulates, rodents and primates (monkeys and apes) constitute the majority of species hunted. Primates account for more than 20% of carcasses sold and are particularly vulnerable to hunting pressures due to their slow rates of reproduction.

In many areas, primates are being hunted to dangerously low levels and local extinctions are being recorded. In the Lebialem Highlands of Cameroon, more than 40 mammal species are traded and consumed as bushmeat, including some of Africa’s most threatened primates. The Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, drill and Preuss's guenon are all classified as endangered or critically endangered as a result of hunting for the bushmeat trade.
The sheer number of individuals involved in commercial hunting has made wildlife a finite resource. Mammals are depleting in numbers and hunters are struggling to return with adequate catches to financially support their families, leading to increased poverty and hardship.

The Lebialem Hunters’ Beekeeping Initiative aims to facilitate lifestyle changes in
those economically dependent on the unsustainable bushmeat trade by providing them with the necessary training and equipment to become beekeepers.

Encouraging and facilitating trade in honey and beeswax, which are environmentally-friendly products with strong market potential both nationally and internationally, has poverty alleviation and conservation benefits.

There is substantial scope for growth since hunters, once trained as beekeepers, can motivate and train others within their communities and further afield. The market for bee products in Cameroon is growing and will continue to grow with marketing investment. International enthusiasm for fair trade and organic products presents another opportunity. By utilising the market economy we can achieve our conservation objectives whilst enhancing the development prospects of the local people.

Learn more >