What made you want to join the Trade Hub programme as a Biodiversity fellow?
My interest in becoming a Biodiversity Fellow is aligned with two objectives, firstly I am eager to increase my capacities in research, particularly in data analysis, scientific writing and publication; and secondly the wish to enlarge my network by creating long-term relationships with researchers working on wildmeat related issues to enable continued knowledge sharing and potential future collaborations within conservation.
My research project to be implemented as part of the Biodiversity Fellowship involves identifying and understanding obstacles and opportunities from the COVID-19 outbreak to reduce urban bushmeat trade and consumption in Central Africa, and particularly in the Republic of Congo. With the emergence of new zoonotic diseases at national and international levels, governments and conservation organisations are putting in place measures such as market bans and other actions to reduce bushmeat trade and therefore decrease wild animal handling by people. These changes will influence the context of urban bushmeat trade and consumption by impacting people’s perceptions and increase interest of non-conservation organisations in wildlife issues. To be able to tailor existing conservation initiatives or policies and future actions to the post- COVID context, it is crucial to understand people’s evolving perceptions on wildmeat trade and identify new potential stakeholders that are interested in future collaborations.
Learn more about the programme Lude is working on here
I was raised in a family where my parents strongly valued their traditional cultural cuisine, which encompasses among other things the use of a variety of forest products, including wildmeat as a source of protein. I therefore, developed a positive appreciation of wildmeat consumption and had the chance to learn about the particularities and the importance of this resource as perceived by many people in Congolese society. That past experience did not offer the opportunity to consider the problems associated with urban bushmeat consumption in relation to biodiversity loss. It was only in 2017, as I started my career in conservation that I realised the unsustainability of urban bushmeat consumption and its link with declining forest biodiversity. I was astonished to understand how consumption habits in urban areas increased hunting pressure on wildlife; and I became aware of the need to do something in order to solve this problem. This raised in me an eagerness to contribute to our understanding of wildmeat consumption in urban areas and potential solutions.
Across Central Africa, forest animals are being hunted to satisfy the demands of large and growing urban centres. An estimated 5 million tons of wildmeat is extracted annually in the Congo Basin. The level of hunting to meet urban demand for meat is considered unsustainable.
I am particularly interested in studying urban bushmeat consumption, selling and transportation. I wish to increase our understanding of stakeholders, practices and motivations around these sectors in a manner that allows the findings to inform the development or adaptation of solutions to reduce wildmeat demand in urban areas. In addition, I am interested in understanding the evolving perceptions of populations in relation to wildmeat and conservation organisations, as well as the role of non-conservation actors, such as media agencies, civil society, the private sector, celebrities etc, in tackling emerging issues such as the need to scale up efforts to prevent future zoonotic diseases.
My current research involves exploring perceptions around wildlife consumption in the Republic of Congo, and understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these perceptions, and how public responses are shaped by media discourses.
This research uses the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) platform to collate online news articles for content analysis to understand public perceptions and behaviours relating to wildmeat and zoonotic diseases. The findings from this research will be presented in policy briefs to inform national and regional wildmeat interventions with the ultimate aim of reducing and regulating wildmeat consumption in urban areas.
For more about this programme visit our project page here
Since 2017, I have been working on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Urban Bushmeat Project, which aims to reduce threats to wildlife from urban bushmeat demand in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. My work involves supporting the development and implementation of research, including coordinating field work, collecting data, and supporting data analysis. I have also been supporting the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project’s behavior change campaign to reduce urban bushmeat consumption. In addition, I have contributed to identifying and liaising with key project stakeholders.
I hold a Level 4 Diploma in Oil and Gas Management, from J-Prompt Institute of Technology, Accra, Republic of Ghana, and awarded by the Institute of Professional and Executive Development-United Kingdom (IPED-UK); and I have good working knowledge of French, English and Congolese languages.