Illegal meat hunting in serengeti: dynamics in consumption and preferences

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Blackwell Publishing Ltd


Although wild meat is an important source of protein across Africa, patterns and reasons for its demand are poorly defined. A study was conducted on consumption by inhabitants of ten villages in five districts to the west of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The first sample of 600 villagers was systematically selected from village registers and surveyed using a questionnaire. The second sample consisted of 341 arrested illegal meat hunters. Nine species dominated by eland (Taurotragus oryx) and wildebeest (Connachaetes taurinus) in terms of meat taste and hunting vulnerability respectively were found to be most preferred or consumed. There were remarkable variations in consumption and preferences for each species amongst ethnic groups and localities. The economics of protein consumption indicates that wild meat is consistently cheaper and hence consumed more frequently than other meats. Respondents’ topmost tasty meat – eland and topi (Damaliscus lunatus) – were rare; consequently, common species e.g. buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and wildebeest were the substitutes mostly consumed to supplement beef and fish. Presence of carnivore species on the menu clearly demonstrates survival techniques when availability changes. Wildlife managers should, therefore, bestow attention to the conservation of all species for a balanced ecosystem and species survival.



Hunters, Meat taste, Protein, Serengeti, Tanzania, Wild meat