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- 

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


Project overview:

Image removed.
Duiker meat. Photo: Stephanie Brittain

Conservation organisations have long supported initiatives that aim to provide alternatives to the hunting and consumption of wild meat- particularly when the meat comes from endangered species. In many rural areas, wild meat is the key source of protein in peoples’ diet, so if its consumption is reduced, it is critical for the health of the population that additional protein supplies are available, acceptable and affordable.

Examples of initiatives aimed at reducing the consumption of wild meat alternatives include developing income-earning opportunities for hunters and alternative protein sources- such as fish, livestock or captive bred wild species- for consumers.

Often these initiatives have failed to achieve their conservation and food security objectives because they failed to consider the underlying drivers behind peoples’ choice to eat wild meat, such as its availability ad relative low cost, taste and cultural influences.

This project focusses on the Dja Faunal Reserve in southeast Cameroon. The reserve is a rainforest UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a wide diversity of primates and other mammals of conservation importance.  While much wild meat is sold to urban consumers, high levels of local consumption remains a significant conservation threat in rural communities, such as those surrounding the Dja Faunal Reserve.

We will conduct research within villages adjacent to the reserve, to understand why people eat wild meat and discover what local people really want from initiatives, in order for us to better develop suitable alternatives. Our findings will support improvements to the design and implementation of bushmeat alternative initiatives around the reserve and across sub-Saharan Africa.


Planned activities:

This project will improve the capacity of conservation and development actors to design and implement initiatives for to reduce the hunting of threatened species for  wild meat  that are feasible, effective and, crucially, acceptable to local people.

The project includes the following main components.

  1. Inventory of existing wild meat  projects

We will consult with local partners to compile an inventory of existing wild meat  alternative projects around the Dja Faunal Reserve.

  1. Desk based evidence reviews

We will conduct desk-based reviews of 1) the factors affecting the success of wild meat  alternative projects in sub-Saharan Africa and 2) the drivers of wild meat  as a food choice in sub-Saharan Africa.

  1. Assessment of drivers of wild meat as a food choice

We will work with local communities in three contrasting sites around the Dja Faunal Reserve to understand their food choices and the role of wild meat, as well as to understand locally-desired design features of wild meat alternatives initiatives.

  1. Synthesis and decision-support

We will develop recommendations for the Cameroonian government and implementing NGOs at the Dja Faunal Reserve and elsewhere. We will develop a decision-support tool to ensure that new interventions are better aligned with the drivers of food choice, making them more effective at increasing food security, meeting people’s needs and priorities, and conserving species threatened by unsustainable hunting.


Project outputs:

One output will be the development of a decision support tool. This tool will be intended for use by the designers of new interventions, to enable future initiatives to be better aligned with the drivers of food choice and meet peoples’ needs and priorities. In turn, initiatives will be more effective at increasing food security and conserving species threatened by unsustainable hunting.



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

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


Additional resources

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

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

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


Get involved

Surveys for practitioners and policy makers.

Are you a conservation practitioner designing & implementing wild meat alternatives projects in sub-Saharan Africa? Please take 10 mins to complete our survey exploring the drivers of wild meat consumption, click here to take the survey

Are you a policy maker working on wild meat in sub-Saharan Africa? Please take 10 mins to complete our survey exploring the drivers of wild meat consumption & factors for successful alternatives projects, click here to take the survey.  


We would love to receive your feedback on the decision support tool! Which can be downloaded in both English here and in French here. Please complete the feedback form (available in either English or French) and email to stephanie.brittain@zoo.ox.ac.uk by the 31st of August 2021


Trial our new tool:

Are you a project implementer based anywhere in the world, about to embark on a wild meat alternatives project? Would you be willing to trial our new decision support tool guidance, with support from the Why Eat Wild Meat team where necessary? If so, please do get in contact, we would love to hear from you. Please email Stephanie.brittain@zoo.ox.ac.uk “


More information:

The project flyer can be downloaded here (coming soon!)

Project information from IIED website can be found here


river crossing