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Understanding drivers of urban bushmeat demand in a Ghanaian market

McNamara, J and Fa, John and Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y (2019) Understanding drivers of urban bushmeat demand in a Ghanaian market. Biological Conservation. ISSN 0006-3207

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Abstract

Wild meat (or bushmeat) is consumed as a luxury item in many African cities. By contrast, bushmeat is an important source of food and income for many poor households in rural areas. To curb the flow of bushmeat from rural to urban areas, understanding drivers of demand in city markets, and their impact on hunter revenues remains fundamental. Here, we present a simple econometric model for the trade of a commercially important bushmeat species in Ghana, the grasscutter (Thryonomys swinderianus). We explore own-price and cross-price elasticity of demand of grasscutter meat relative to commonly consumed alternative meats (goat, beef, poultry and fish) in the Atwemonom market in Kumasi city, Ghana. We show that: 1) grasscutter demand is elastic to its own price, 2) beef has an elastic cross-price elasticity, and 3) grasscutter is a luxury good, highly sensitive to consumer income. The elastic nature of the market suggests that price control policies e.g. “wild meat” tax, could reduce demand. Given that beef is the best substitute in our study area, we suggest that investment in Ghana’s underdeveloped cattle industry may reduce wildlife demand while also supporting herding economies. Critically, our results demonstrated that policies that aim to reduce bushmeat demand are likely to impact hunter revenues. This finding underscores the need for complimentary investments in the rural economy to drive incomes and off-set any revenue losses as a result of a decline in bushmeat demand.

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