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Trends in bushmeat trade in a postconflict forest town: implications for food security

Nathalie van Vliet, CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)
Björn Schulte-Herbrüggen, CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)
Jonas Muhindo, CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)
Casimir Nebesse, Laboratoire d'Ecologie et de Gestion des Ressources Animales (LEGERA) Université de Kisangani
Sylvestre Gambalemoke, University of Kisangani; Institut Supérieur des Techniques Médicales d'Isiro
Robert Nasi, CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research)


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Food insecurity and malnutrition can be major, yet often overlooked, consequences of armed conflicts because of the disruption of rural-urban trade networks and human migration toward safe urban centers. Bushmeat has been shown to act as an important safety net for conflict-affected urban populations, contributing the provisioning of basic needs and postconflict peace building efforts. However, the widely documented unsustainability of bushmeat hunting questions whether reliance of an urban population on bushmeat can be sustained for prolonged periods.
To assess the potential contribution of bushmeat to sustainable food systems and peace building processes in a postconflict setting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we use bushmeat trade data from the Kisangani market collected during three annual surveys in 2002, 2008/2009, and 2015/2016. Overall, we found a decreasing supply of bushmeat that, combined with an increasing human population size, limited the contribution of bushmeat to food security. Although bushmeat was the cheapest source of animal protein available in 2002, substitutes became more affordable over time, thereby reducing the need for bushmeat, especially among the urban poor. Finally, assessing the sustainability of bushmeat supply showed an ambiguous pattern depending on the indicator used, which may have been influenced by changes in the geographical trade routes, possibly mediating negative effects of local resource depletion on urban bushmeat supplies.
This study provides insights into the contribution and the sustainability of bushmeat to urban postconflict food security. At the same time we also highlight the need for improved understanding of temporal supply/trade trajectories and especially the interaction between the sustainability of bushmeat harvest and the availability of affordable substitutes for ensuring sustainable food systems in support of peace building processes.

Key words

bushmeat; Democratic Republic of Congo; food security; Kisangani; market; postconflict; sustainable food system; trade

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087