Traditional wildlife hunting has been described mainly from studies of local practices and from the monitoring of urban bushmeat markets. However, the overall value chain connecting hunters to end consumers remains largely unknown, thus preventing any estimate of the actual socio-economic importance of the bushmeat sector. On the basis of existing literature, this paper provides an order of magnitude for the financial and economic benefits of the bushmeat commodity chain in Cameroon. The following conservative conclusions were arrived at:
The annual turnover of the bushmeat sector in the country is likely to be close to €97 million, i.e. 36% more than the official assessment derived from public accounts.
The bushmeat sector may contribute 0.17% to Cameroon’s GDP (non-oil), as much as the mining sector.
Self-consumption of bushmeat in rural areas may amount to gross annual economic benefit of more than €142 million.
However, bushmeat in a country like Cameroon needs to be managed so as to guarantee the food security of urban and rural populations, as well as maintain a substantial source of revenue for communities, all of this without depleting the resource. Achieving this goal requires policy makers to disassociate wildlife harvesting from ‘poaching’ and the extirpation of species. It is crucial to go beyond the dominant narrative of a (real but over simplified) notion of a conservation crisis, to address its important livelihood and welfare dimensions.