Skip to main content Accessibility help

Do large birds experience previously undetected levels of hunting pressure in the forests of Central and West Africa?

  • Robin C. Whytock (a1), Ralph Buij (a2), Munir Z. Virani (a3) and Bethan J. Morgan (a4)

The commercial bushmeat trade threatens numerous species in the forests of West and Central Africa. Hunters shoot and trap animals, which are transported to rural and urban markets for sale. Village-based surveys of hunter offtake and surveys of bushmeat markets have shown that mammals and reptiles are affected most, followed by birds. However, hunters also consume some animals in forest camps and these may have been overlooked in surveys that have focused on bushmeat extracted from the forest. A number of studies have used indirect methods, such as hunter diaries, to quantify this additional offtake but results can be difficult to verify. We examined discarded animal remains at 13 semi-permanent hunting camps in the Ebo Forest, Cameroon, over 272 days. Twenty-one species were identified from 49 carcasses, of which birds constituted 55%, mammals 43% and other taxa 2%. The mammals identified were typical of those recorded in previous bushmeat studies but we recorded several species of birds rarely recorded elsewhere. Offtake of bird species increased with mean body mass. We extrapolated our results to the 34 known hunting camps in the Ebo Forest and estimated that a minimum of 97 birds are hunted annually in a catchment area of c. 479 km2. We conclude that some bird species may be hunted more frequently than previous research suggests and this has important conservation implications for larger-bodied species such as raptors and hornbills.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Do large birds experience previously undetected levels of hunting pressure in the forests of Central and West Africa?
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Do large birds experience previously undetected levels of hunting pressure in the forests of Central and West Africa?
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Do large birds experience previously undetected levels of hunting pressure in the forests of Central and West Africa?
      Available formats
Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
This paper contains supplementary material that can be found online at
Hide All
Abernethy, K.A., Coad, L., Taylor, G., Lee, M.E. & Maisels, F. (2013) Extent and ecological consequences of hunting in Central African rainforests in the twenty-first century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368, 20120303.
Allebone-Webb, S.M., Kümpel, N.F., Rist, J., Cowlishaw, G., Rowcliffe, J.M. & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2011) Use of market data to assess bushmeat hunting sustainability in Equatorial Guinea. Conservation Biology, 25, 597606.
Bennett, E.L., Eves, H.E., Robinson, J.G. & Wilkie, D.S. (2002) Why is eating bushmeat a biodiversity crisis? Conservation Biology: In Practice, 3, 2829.
Bennett, E.L., Nyaoi, A.J. & Sompud, J. (1997) Hornbills Buceros spp. and culture in northern Borneo: can they continue to co-exist? Biological Conservation, 82, 4146.
BirdLife International (2012) Ceratogymna elata. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v. 2012.1. Http:// [accessed October 2012].
Borrow, N. & Demey, R. (2004) Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa. Christopher Helm Publishers, London, UK.
Brodie, J.F., Helmy, O.E., Brockelman, W.Y. & Maron, J.L. (2009) Bushmeat poaching reduces the seed dispersal and population growth rate of a mammal-dispersed tree. Ecological Applications, 19, 854863.
Carrete, M., Sánchez-Zapata, J.A., Benítez, J.R., Lobón, M. & Donázar, J.A. (2009) Large scale risk-assessment of wind-farms on population viability of a globally endangered long-lived raptor. Biological Conservation, 142, 29542961.
Chirio, L. & LeBreton, M. (2007) Atlas des Reptiles du Cameroun. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Brunoy, France.
Djeukam, R. (2012) The Wildlife Law as a Tool for Protecting Threatened Species in Cameroon. Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Dowsett, R. (2001) First Survey of the Birds and Mammals of the Yabassi Area, South-Western Cameroon. Unpublished report. WWF, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
East, T., Kümpel, N.F., Milner-Gulland, E.J. & Rowcliffe, J.M. (2005) Determinants of urban bushmeat consumption in Rio Muni, Equatorial Guinea. Biological Conservation, 126, 206215.
Fa, J.E., Currie, D. & Meeuwig, J. (2003) Bushmeat and food security in the Congo Basin: linkages between wildlife and people's future. Environmental Conservation, 30, 7178.
Fa, J.E. & García Yuste, J.E. (2001) Commercial bushmeat hunting in the Monte Mitra forests, Equatorial Guinea: extent and impact. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 24, 3152.
Fa, J.E., Johnson, P.J., Dupain, J., Lapuente, J., Köster, P. & Macdonald, D.W. (2004) Sampling effort and dynamics of bushmeat markets. Animal Conservation, 7, 409416.
Fa, J.E., Seymoura, S., Dupain, J., Aminc, R., Albrechtsend, L. & Macdonald, D. (2006) Getting to grips with the magnitude of exploitation: bushmeat in the Cross–Sanaga rivers region, Nigeria and Cameroon. Biological Conservation, 129, 497510.
Ferguson-Lees, J. & Christie, D.A. (2001) Raptors of the World. A&C Black, London, UK.
Fotso, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Dowsett, R.J., Cameroon Ornithological Club, Scholte, P., Languy, M. & Bowden, C. (2001) Cameroon. In Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation (eds Fishpool, L.D.C. & Evans, M.I.), pp. 133160. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
Fry, C.H., Keith, S. & Urban, E.K. (1988) The Birds of Africa, Vol. 3. Academic Press, London, UK.
Goodman, S.M. (1994) Description of a new species of subfossil eagle from Madagascar—Stephanoaetus (Aves, Falconiformes) from the deposits of Ampasambazimba. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 107, 421428.
Henschel, P., Hunter, L.T.B., Coad, L., Abernethy, K.A. & Mühlenberg, M. (2011) Leopard prey choice in the Congo Basin rainforest suggests exploitative competition with human bushmeat hunters. Journal of Zoology, 285, 1120.
IUCN (2013) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v. 2013.1. Http:// [accessed July 2013].
Jones, J.P., Andriamarovololona, M.M., Hockley, N., Gibbons, J.M. & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2008) Testing the use of interviews as a tool for monitoring trends in the harvesting of wild species. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 12051212.
Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London, UK.
Krüger, O. & Radford, A.N. (2008) Doomed to die? Predicting extinction risk in the true hawks Accipitridae. Animal Conservation, 11, 8391.
Kümpel, N.F. (2006) Incentives for sustainable hunting of bushmeat in Rio Muni, Equatorial Guinea. PhD thesis. Imperial College, London, UK.
LAGA (Last Great Ape Organization) (2012) Annual Report January–December 2012. Unpublished report. LAGA, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Lindblom, G. (1938) An ethnographical proof of the honey buzzard's migrations to Cameroon. 1. Ethnos, 3, 47.
Lowe, W.P. (1937) Report on the Lowe–Waldron expeditions to the Ashanti forests and Northern Territories of the Gold Coast. Ibis, 79, 345368, 635–662, 830–864.
Macdonald, D.W., Johnson, P.J., Albrechsten, L., Dutton, A., Seymour, S., Dupain, J. et al. (2011) Association of body mass with price of bushmeat in Nigeria and Cameroon. Conservation Biology, 25, 12201228.
McConkey, K.R. & Chivers, D.J. (2004) Low mammal and hornbill abundance in the forests of Barito Ulu, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Oryx, 38, 439447.
Milner-Gulland, E.J., Bennett, E.L. & the SCB 2002 Annual Meeting Wild Meat Group (2003) Wild meat: the bigger picture. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18, 351357.
Morgan, B.J. (2008) The gorillas of the Ebo Forest. Gorilla Journal, 36, 1416.
B.J, Morgan. (ed.) (2011) Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of the Nigeria–Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti). IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, USA.
Morgan, B.J., Abwe, E.E., Dixson, A.F. & Astaras, C. (2013) The distribution, status, and conservation outlook of the drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) in Cameroon. International Journal of Primatology, 34, 281302.
Oates, J.F., Bergl, R.A. & Linder, J.M. (2004) Africa's Gulf of Guinea Forests: Biodiversity Patterns and Conservation Priorities. Conservation International, Washington, DC, USA.
Owens, I.P.F. & Bennett, P.M. (2000) Ecological basis of extinction risk in birds: habitat loss versus human persecution and introduced predators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97, 1214412148.
Poulsen, J.R., Clark, C.J. & Palmer, T.M. (2013) Ecological erosion of an Afrotropical forest and potential consequences for tree recruitment and forest biomass. Biological Conservation, 163, 122130.
Rist, J., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Cowlishaw, G. & Rowcliffe, M. (2010) Hunter reporting of catch per unit effort as a monitoring tool in a bushmeat-harvesting system. Conservation Biology, 24, 489499.
Shultz, S. & Noë, R. (2002) The consequences of crowned eagle central-place foraging on predation risk in monkeys. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 269, 17971802.
Struhsaker, T.T. & Leakey, M. (1990) Prey selectivity by crowned hawk-eagles on monkeys in the Kibale Forest, Uganda. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 26, 435443.
Trail, P.W. (2007) African hornbills: keystone species threatened by habitat loss, hunting and international trade. Ostrich, 78, 609613.
Urban, E., Fry, C. & Keith, S. (eds) (1982) The Birds of Africa, Vol. 2. Academic Press, London, UK.
Whytock, R.C. & Morgan, B.J. (2010) The commercial bushmeat trade potentially threatens raptor populations in the Ebo forest, Cameroon. GABAR, 1, 17.
Wilkie, D.S. & Carpenter, J.F. (1999) Bushmeat hunting in the Congo Basin: an assessment of impacts and options for mitigation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 8, 927955.
Willcox, A.S. & Nambu, D.M. (2007) Wildlife hunting practices and bushmeat dynamics of the Banyangi and Mbo people of Southwestern Cameroon. Biological Conservation, 134, 251261.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Whytock Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 PDF (86 KB)
86 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed