Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (3) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Bushmeat survey an indicator of wildlife disappearance in Soubre Region, Côte d’Ivoire

E A Bitty*, B Kadjo, J-C K Bene*, ** and P K Kouassi

Laboratoire de Zoologie et Biologie Animale, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan-Cocody, Côte d’ivoire, 22 BP 582 Abidjan 22
* Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique en Côte d’Ivoire, 01 BP 1303 Abidjan 01
** Unité de Formation et de Recherche d’Environnement, Université Jean Lorougnon Guédé, BP 150 Daloa


The Soubre region was known to be a biodiversity hotspot as located in the Upper Guinean forest. However few decades ago, this zone faces human pressure. We conducted bushmeat and foot surveys to assess the wild animal species that have escaped from the human pressure.

Our results shown that just few mammal species involved in the game are sold in the local restaurants. The species frequently sold were: Tragelaphus scriptus, Philantomba maxwellii, Thryonomys swinderianus Artherurus africanus and Cricetomys emini. In addition, our foot survey in the field allowed to confirm the presence of few mammals species. Indeed, we found the evidence of presence of only eight species (Tragelaphus scriptus, Artherurus africanus, Xerus erythropus, Philantomba maxwellii, Dendrohyrax arboreus, Crossarchus obscures, Thryonomys swinderianus and Hippopotamus amphibious). Thryonomys swinderianus and Tragelaphus scriptus had the higher encountered rate respectively 0.76 and 0.53, followed by Xerus erythropus, Artherurus africanus and Crossarchus obscures respectively 0.46 for the two formers and 0.30 for the latest. The weakest encountered rate was found with Philantomba maxwellii and Hippopotamus amphibious respectively 0.15 and 0.07. In sum, the wildlife population is declining due to hunting pressure and deforestation.

Key words: deforestation, habitat, hunting, mammals, poaching, tropical forests


The tropical forest of Soubre region is located in the Upper Guinean forest belt. This ecosystem is known to host several animal and plant species and has been classified as a biodiversity hotspot (Myers 2000, Kolongo et al 2006). However, few decades ago Soubre region faced a high habitat loss and has been one of the primary focuses of forest conversion into agriculture and timber extraction by logging companies. The human pressure on tropical forests and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire is very high, which is why the country has been ranged at the top of western African countries that encounter highest deforestation rate (Barnes 1990). Even though the threat on biodiversity is mainly tied to the deforestation (Kinnaird et al 2002), hunting contributes  as well to the loss of the animals inhabiting these forests.

Therefore, high hunting pressure in addition to deforestation has made wildlife in that region  decline. Indeed, the consumption and trade of bushmeat is considered a significant conservation issue in many parts of the world (Robinson and Bennett 2000) with attention usually focused on larger species, especially primates and duikers (Bowen-Jones and Pendry 1999). The meat of wild animals has longtime been a part of the staple diet of forest-dwelling peoples in Africa (John et al 2000, Martin et al 2012). Although this meat is still important to many rural people, it is now also a large source of protein for many of tropical Africa’s town and city dwellers (John et al 2000). In Côte d’Ivoire, hunting is prohibited throughout the country since 1974 (Caspary and Momo 1998). Nevertheless, this illegal activity is practiced and the bushmeat gathered from poaching provides cash for the household economy. Within the country, bushmeat is sold in markets and some local restaurants by women with a powerful network of distribution. Furthermore, Soubre region is so far a region of migration and exodus to that zone is from both the other areas within the country and neighboring countries. This migration has increased the local population size and the rate of the demand for food and protein and therefore has accelerated the rate of animals extirpated from the surrounding forests.

Since the political crisis in 2010 after the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire several police and military check-points have been settled on most of the roads of the country. Basically this massive presence of the soldiers is to seek for weapons supposed to be use to destabilize the regime. This situation indirectly has drastically reduced the bushmeat trade in Soubre region. Then this allows us to make sure that the bush sale on the market is probably from the region.

The purpose of this paper is to show how a bushmeat survey can be used to highlight the presence of wildlife in a surrounding area in addition to foot survey on the ground.


Study site

The site was originally covered by evergreen dense forest (Guillaumet and Adjanohoun 1971, Guillaumet 1994). This forest region was apart from the other forests of Côte d’Ivoire the sole one which showed the highest floristic biodiversity with more than sixty “Sassandrienne” plants (Avenard et al 1971, Koli 1981). The climate is a subequatorial type with four seasons; one long rainy season (March to July), a short dry season in August, a short rainy season (September to November) and a long dry season (December to February).The annual rain fall swings between 1700 and 2200 mm while the annual temperature fluctuates between 25°C and 27°C. However because of the deforestation, actually the only forest of the region is restricted to the Taï National Park.  

Data collection
Ethnozoological surveys

The surveys were conducted among persons involved in the bushmeat industry constituted by hunters, wholesalers of bushmeat and owners of restaurants. From April to May 2013 and in August 2013, every morning we visited that core area to assess the wild species sale. Also we interviewed the owners of the restaurants to collect the wild species they used to sell as meat. Ten (10) bushmeat restaurants were regularly visited as well as the core area place. In addition, interviews were conducted with thirteen (13) charismatic hunters and some people living in the villages surrounding the city of Soubre to assess the wildlife that was in the region and the species which were still alive in the region.

Foot surveys

We conducted 10 days surveys in May 2013 and the census was restricted to mammals. We used the transects method to assess the mammal species living in the area. This method is one of the most used to census the large mammals (Pollock 1978, Burnham et al 1980, Seber 1986, Sutherland 1996, Williams et al 2002). The transects were positioned so that the main habitats of the study site were visited. In sum due to the high deforestation rate, 10 transects the length of which ranged from 0.8 to 1.5 km were defined. The foot survey started early morning and ended at dusk. During the surveys we walked slowly along the transect and stopped time to time in order to maximize our chance to meet evidence of mammals presence. The observations were either direct or indirect:

- direct observations when individuals were sighted;

- indirect observations when we just saw animals’ foot prints, dung etc.

A mean of 13 km was walked during the surveys.


Ethnozoological surveys

The surveys with bushmeat restaurant owners showed that just a few animal species are involved in the meat trade in the local restaurants. Species frequently sold were: Tragelaphus scriptus, Philantomba maxwellii, Thryonomys swinderianus, Artherurus africanus and Cricetomys emini. In addition, the interviews with the restaurant owners revealed that Primates species (Cercopithecus campbelli lowei and Cercopithecus petaurista) were received rarely from their traders. The wildlife was received fresh or smoked (Figures 1 and 2). According to the interviews with the owners of the restaurants their business is gradually going down because they received less bushmeat compared with a few years ago when several divers species were sold in the market.

Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)

Brush-tailed porcupine (Artherurus africanus)

Grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus) Maxwell’s duiker (Philantomba maxwellii)

Figure 1 :Fresh killed animals in the local bushmeat restaurant

Figure 2: Smoked bushmeat in the local restaurant

Furthermore, the interviews with the charismatic hunters and local people regarding the animals living in the area indicated that, few decades ago, the area was the original home range of several species. Nevertheless actually, the wildlife is restricted to few animals which are not abundant compared to the past (Table 1).

Table 1: Species supposedly present according to the interview with hunters and local people

Species and family

Common name

Local name

Local status

IUCN status


Cercopithecus campbelli lowei

Cercopithecus diana roloway

Cercopithecus petaurista

Cercocebus atys lunulatus

Procolobus verus

Colobus vellerosus

Piliocolobus badius waldronae


Pan troglodytes verus


Tragelaphus scriptus

Philantomba maxwellii

Cephalophus dorsalis

Cephalophus niger

Cephalophus sylvicultor

Neotragus pygmaeus

Syncerus caffer


Civettictis  civetta

Genetta tigrina

Crossarchus obscurus


Hippopotamus amphibius

Choeropsis liberiensis


Potamochoerus porcus


Thryonomys swinderianus

Artherurus africanus


Loxodonta africana



Campbell’s Monkey

Roloway’s Monkey


White-Napped mangabey

Olive colobus

Geoffroy’s Pied  Colobus

Miss’ Waldrone





Maxwell’s duiker

Bay duiker

Black duiker

Yellow-backed duiker

Royale antelope

African buffalo


African civet

Blotched genet

Long-nosed mongoose



Pygmy hippopotamus


 Red river hog



Brush-tailed porcupine


 African elephant
































































































Lc : Less concerned ; En : Endanger ; Vu : Vulnerable ; Ew : Extinct in the wild
IUCN: International Union for Nature Conservation

Foot surveys

During the surveys we found evidence of the presence of eight mammal species (Table 2): Tragelaphus scriptus,Artherurus africanus, Xerus erythropus, Philantomba maxwellii, Dendrohyrax arboreus, Crossarchus obscurus, Thryonomys swinderianus and Hippopotamus amphibius. These species belonged to five families (Ongulae, Hyracoidae, Herpestidae, Sciuridae and Thryonomyidae). Based on species encountered rate, Thryonomys swinderianus and Tragelaphus scriptus had the higher encountered rate respectively 0.76 and 0.53, followed by Xerus erythropus, Artherurus africanus and Crossarchus obscurus respectively 0.46 for the two formers and 0.30 for the latest. The weakest encountered rate was found with Philantomba maxwellii (0.15) and Hippopotamus amphibious (0.07). In sum, this means that we had to walk 100 km to find 76 individuals of Thryonomys swinderianus and 53 individuals of Tragelaphus scriptus.

Within a total of 38 observations of mammals presence, 73.7% of these were made in degraded habitats while 26.3% of them were in smaller remaining forest areas.

Table 2: Mammals encountered during the study


Observation type

Number (N)

N / km

Thryonomys swinderianus




Tragelaphus scriptus




Artherurus africanus




Xerus erythropus




Crossarchus obscurus




Philantomba maxwellii




Hippopotamus amphibius




Dendrohyrax arboreus





The local hunters and people from the surrounding villages had truly a good knowledge of wildlife that lived in the area and those which have escaped from extinction. The list of wild animals reported confirmed the richness in term of animal species diversity. However, based on the species encountered during the surveys in the bushmeat market, our results showed that the mammal’s diversity has dramatically collapsed. Only few species were recorded at the local bushmeat restaurants. Although we did not focus on the quantity and abundance of the species census, reports from the owners of bushmeat restaurants confirmed that the wildlife is no more abundant and not diversified in the Soubre region. Furthermore, our foot surveys highlighted the dramatic disappearance of the wild animals in the Soubre region. Indeed, only eight species were sighted during the survey.  We are aware that the survey period was probably short but we still believe that even a long period sample would not maybe give further information. In addition, our foot survey results support the one of the interviews from charismatic hunters and people of the surrounding villages and the bushmeat market. The encountered rates of all the wild animal species were very weak and this dramatically showed that at best we should walk 100 km to find 76 individuals of Thryonomys swinderianus and at worst we find 15 individuals of Philantomba maxwellii and seven individuals of Hippopotamus amphibius for the same walking distance .

We can only speculate about the causes for the decline of wild populations in Côte d’Ivoire, but in general they are most likely the same as in many other African countries: fragmentation, conversion and degradation of forests and large-scale bush meat hunting (Cowlishaw and Dunbar 2000, Oates et al 2000, Cowlishaw et al 2009). Throughout the tropical world, less than 5% of rain forests are legally protected from human exploitation (Redford 1992, Oates et al 1996). Furthermore, many tropical species are locally endemic or rare and patchily distributed (Struhsaker 1975, Richards 1996). Such restricted distributions predispose many tropical forest species to increased risk of extinction, simply because their range may not fall within a protected area (Terborgh 1992). Consequently, national parks and reserves, even if effectively protected, will fail to conserve many species (Chapman and Lambert 2000). Forest degradation and bushmeat trade escape from the control of African authorities and particularly those within Côte d’Ivoire. Furthermore the lack of law enforcement and a sustainable management of the tropical forests and its wildlife in these countries continue to induce threast on the biodiversity (Bene and Duffour 2011, Bene et al 2013).

A widespread bushmeat trade has developed in the informal sector and represents an important component of household economies.  Bushmeat trade has an economic impact on households (Refisch and Koné 2005). Few authors have previously shown the economical impact of this bushmeat trade. Indeed, in Côte d’Ivoire the wild animals haravested in the year 1996 was 120 000 tonnes and the trade value was estimated in the same year to bw 118 million Euros which represents 1.4% of the gross domestic product (Caspary et al 2001). This situation is as critical as in the basin of Congo where bushmeat consumption was estimated to range  between 1 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes (Wikie and Carpenter 1999, Fa et al 2003). The increase of the illegal trade of bushmeat has been a conservation concern and the term of bushmeat has gradually become associated with  overexploitation (Cowlishaw et al 2005).


This research would not have been possible without the financial support of the BNETD (Bureau National d’Etudes Techniques et de Développement). We are grateful to the women owners of bushmeat restaurants in Soubre city for their cooperation during the surveys. We also thank the hunters and people of the surrounding villages for their hospitality.


Avenard J M 1971 Aspects de la géomorphologie : Dans « Milieu naturel de la Côte d’Ivoire » ORSTOM 50, 15-72

Barnes R F W 1990 Deforestation trends in tropical Africa. African Journal of Ecology. 28 (3): 161-173.

Bene J-C K and Dufour S 2011 Bushmeat survey in the northern Nimba County, Liberia. Report for Conservation International & Arcelor Mittal Liberia, 155pp.

Bene J-C K, Gamys J and Dufour 2013 A wealth of Wildlife Endangered in northern Nimba County, Liberia. International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 314-323

Bowen-Jones E and Pendry S 1999 The threat to primates and other mammals from the bushmeat trade in Africa, and how this threat could be diminished. Oryx 33 (3): 233-246

Caspary H U and Momo J 1998 La chasse villagoise en Côte d’Ivoire, resultats dans le cadre de l’étude Filière de Viande de brousse (Enquête Chasseurs). Rapport DPN et Banque Mondiale, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Caspary H U, Koné I, Prouot C et De Pauw M 2001 La chasse et la filière viande de brousse dans l’espace Taï, Côte d’Ivoire. Tropenbos, Abidjan, 188 pp

Cowlishaw G and Dunbar R I M 2000 Primate Conservation . Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Chapman C A and Lambert J E 2000 Habitat Alteration and the Conservation of African Primates: Case Study of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Am. J. Primatol. 50: 169-185

Cowlishaw G, Mendelson S and Rowcliffe J M 2005 Structure and operation of a bushmeat commodity chain in southwestern Ghana. Conservation Biology 19: 139-149.

Cowlishaw G, Pettifor R A and Isaac N J B 2009 High variability in patterns of population decline: the importance of local processes in species extinctions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 276: 63-69.

Fa J E, Currie D and Meeuwig J 2003 Bushmeat and food security in the Congo Basin: linkages between wildlife and people's future. Environmental Conservation 30: 71-78.

Guillaumet J L and Adjanohoun E 1971 La végétation In : Le milieu naturel de la Côte d’Ivoire, PP 161-262. Mémoire ORSTOM, Paris 391 p.

Guillaumet J L 1994 La flore. In : Riezebos, E. P., Vooren, A.P., & Guillaumet, J.L. (eds) ; Le Parc National de Taï, Côte d’Ivoire. Synthèse des connaissances. Tropenbos Série 8. Wageningen, 66-71

John E F A, Yuste J E G and Castello R 2000 Bushmeat markets on Bioko Islands as a measure of hunting pressure. Conservation biology, 14 (6): 1602- 1613

Kinnaird M F, Snaderson E W, O’brien T G, Wibisono H T and Woolmer G 2002 Deforestation Trends in a Tropical Landscape and Implications for Endangered Large Mammals; Conservation Biology 17 (1): 245-257

Koli B Z 1981 Etude d’un milieu de forêt dense. Analyse et cartographie des paysages dans la région de Soubré (Sud-ouest ivoirien). Thèse de Doctorat IGT, Université d’Abidjan, 199 pp.

Kolongo T S D, Decocq G, Yao C Y A, Blom E C, Rompaey R S A 2006 Plant species diversity in the southern part of the Tai National Park (Côte d’Ivoire). Biodiversity and Conservation., 15: 2123-2142

Martin A, Caro T and Mulder M B 2012 Bushmeat consumption in western Tanzania: A comparative analyze from the same ecosystem. Tropical Conservation Sciences. 5 (3): 352-364

Myers M, Mittermeier R A, Mittermeier C G, Da Fonseca G A B and Kent J 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservationpriorities. Nature., 403: 853-858.

Oates J F, Davies AG and Delson E 1996 The diversity of living colobines. In: Colobine monkeys: their ecology, behaviour and evolution. Davies AG Oates JF, editors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 45- 73.

Oates J F, Adedi-Lartey M, Scott M W, Struhsaker T T and Whitesides G H 2000 Extinction of the West African red colobus monkey. Conservation Biology 14: 1526-1532.

Polloock K H 1978 A family of density estimators Line-Transect Sampling. Biometrics 34, 475-478

Redford K H 1992 The empty forest. Bioscience 42:412-422.

Refisch J and Koné I 2004 Market Hunting in the Taï Region, Côte d’Ivoire and Implications for Monkey Populations. International Journal of Primatology 26 (3): 621-629

Richards P W 1996 The tropical rain forest (2nd edition). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Robinson J G and Bennett E 2000 Sustainability of hunting in tropical forest. Colunbia University Press, Columbia, New York

Seber G A F 1986 A review of estimating animal abundance. Biometrics 42: 267-292

Struhsaker T T 1975 The red colobus monkey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sutherland W J 1996 Ecological census techniques: A handbook. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 336 p.

Terborgh J 1992 Diversity and the tropical rain forest. New York: Scientific American Library.

Williams B K, Nichols J D and Conroy M J 2002 Analysis and management of animal populations. Academic Press, San Diego, California.

Wilkie D S and Carpenter J F 1999 Bushmeat hunting in the Congo Basin: an assessment of impacts and options for mitigation, Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 927-955

Received 28 November 2013; Accepted 8 February 2014; Published 1 March 2014

Go to top