Why eat wild meat?

Researchers: Stephanie Brittain, EJ Milner-Gulland

Partners: IIED, Living Earth, Fondation Camerounaise de la Terre Vivante (FCTV Cameroon)

Period: July 2018- 2021

Funders: Department for International Development (DFID) UK Darwin Initiative


Project overview:

The ‘Why eat wild meat: developing effective alternatives to bushmeat consumption’ project focuses on the Dja Faunal Reserve in southeast Cameroon – a rainforest UNESCO World Heritage Site almost completely surrounded by the Dja River and notable for its wide diversity of primates and other mammals.

While most wild meat ends up being sold to urban consumers, high levels of local consumption remain a significant conservation threat in rural locations such as the area around the Dja Faunal Reserve. Here rural people hunt and consume a wide range of wild animals, including threatened species such as chimpanzees, gorillas, dwarf crocodiles and giant pangolins.

Duiker meat. Photo: Stephanie Brittain

ICCS and partners conducted research, including within villages adjacent to the reserve, to understand why people are choosing to eat wild meat, as well as what local people want from initiatives to develop alternatives. We used our findings to support improvements to the way initiatives are designed around the reserve and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

One specific output was a guidance document, for use by the designers of new interventions, so that initiatives are better aligned with the drivers of food choice and meet peoples’ needs and priorities, making them more effective at increasing food security, and conserving species threatened by unsustainable hunting.

Under the project, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS), University of Oxford, led the project field work, while IIED provide coordination and leading on the desk-based reviews and international outreach.

Living Earth and Fondation Camerounaise de la Terre Vivante (FCTV Cameroon) led on the liaison with Dja Faunal Reserve projects, stakeholder engagement and national dissemination, to ensure findings are mainstreamed into government strategies.



The drivers of wild meat consumption in Cameroon: insights for wild meat alternative project design, Stephanie Brittain, Cedric Thibaut Kamogne Tagne, Dilys Roe, Francesca Booker, Mama Mouamfon, Neil Maddison, Soreya Djibrila Ngomna Tsabong, Salihou Mfone Nteroupe, EJ Milner-Gulland (2022), Research article, Conservation Science & Practice 

Wild meat: developing alternatives through good project design, Francesca Booker, Stephanie Brittain (2022), IIED Briefing 

Wild meat alternative projects: practical guidance for project design, Stephanie Brittain, Francesca Booker, E J Milner-Gulland, Dilys Roe, Neil Maddison, Mama Mouamfon, Cédric Thibaut Kamogne Tagne (updated 2021), Toolkit | en français | en español | em portugueses

Why eat wild meat? Local food choices, food security and desired design features of wild meat alternative projects in Cameroon, Stephanie Brittain (2021), Project report

Why eat wild meat? Preliminary findings from a literature review on key drivers of wild meat as a food choice, Francesca Booker (2021), Project material

Why eat wild meat? Factors affecting the success of alternative protein project, Francesca Booker, Olivia Wilson- Holt (2020), Project report

Why eat wild meat? Understanding food preferences to inform effective alternatives to bushmeat consumption (2018), Project flyer | en français


front cover of the report

Additional resources

Blog: Preventing future pandemics means taking a considered approach to wildlife trade and 'wet markets', by Dilys Roe (July 2022)

Spreadsheet: Alternative protein projects inventory of sub-Saharan Africa (xls)

Blog: Exploring why people eat wild meat- and designing better alternatives, by Stephanie Brittain (July 2020).

News article: What does more environmental damage: eating meat from the wild or a factory farm?, The Guardian (May 2020).

Blog: The COVID-19 response and wild meat: a call for local context, by Stephanie Brittain (April 2020).

Blog: Wild meat: is there an appetite for alternatives? By Stephanie Brittain (May 2019)

News article: How Cameroon love for bush meat dey put animals for danger, BBC Pidgin (April 2019).

Why eat wild meat? Preliminary findings from a literature review on key drivers of wild meat as a food choice (PDF), Convention on Biological Diversity (2019), preliminary findings from a literature review.



river crossing