Tackling wild meat quandaries to protect Cameroon’s biodiversity

New programme seeks to make wild meat trade more sustainable
A De Brazza’s monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus) – one of many primate species found in Cameroon’s Dja Faunal Reserve. Photo by Steve Wilson/Flickr

Related stories

Millions of people around the world depend on wild meat for food and income. It’s an important source of protein, fat, and micronutrients, particularly for Indigenous peoples and rural communities in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

But the demand for wild meat is growing – especially in urban areas – and if hunting is not managed at sustainable levels, then wildlife populations will decline, and people will suffer increased food insecurity. Recent studies have shown that overhunting for food is now threatening hundreds of wildlife species with extinction.

To address this challenge, The Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme was created as a major international initiative that aims to improve wildlife conservation and food security. It works to develop “innovative, collaborative and scalable new approaches to conserve wild animals and protect ecosystems, whilst at the same time improving the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples and rural communities who depend on these resources,” according to Lauren Coad, a senior scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).

The SWM Programme began its work in 2018 in 12 countries. This year, it launched a second phase with an expanded reach across five additional countries – among them Cameroon. There, the programme will develop and test interconnected pilot models for the organization and governance of hunting and the game trade, integrated into a broader approach to local, sustainable, and inclusive development.

The research will take place in 10 Baka villages and 10 Bantu villages in the district of Mintom, in the south-eastern peripheral zone of the Dja Faunal Reserve, which sits within a key conservation landscape, Grand Tridom-Tri-National de la Sangha

Informed by this research, the programme will propose improvements to the institutional arrangements, systems, and tools for the participatory management and exploitation of land and natural resources in Cameroon – and for their implementation.

The work is oriented around three major goals. The first is the sustainable and legal use of wild animal populations through participatory management of hunting, fishing and, more broadly, wild fauna. Such management will necessarily involve rural stakeholders and secure their livelihoods, in compliance with legal frameworks consolidated by customary law and practices – without compromising biodiversity conservation.

The second goal is to reduce the dependence of population centres (urban or otherwise) on wild meat from unsustainable sources, in favour of healthy and sustainable supply chains.

The third goal is to build capacity to prevent zoonotic risks of wild origin at the human-domestic animal-wildlife interface, and within ecosystems, based on the One Health approach to these issues.

Following the introduction of the project to the local administration and stakeholders in November of 2023, CIFOR-ICRAF held a workshop in coordination with the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) on the 30th and 31st of January 2024 in the Mintom locality.

“Our main goal was to explore clear opportunities for synergies among implementers and the local administration with the SWM programme at site level,” said Guillermo Ros Brull, project focal point for SWM Cameroon at CIFOR-ICRAF – “and I must say this was very successful.”

During the workshop, participants shared information about their projects and implementation sites, and collectively defined their strategies through the development of a Theory of Change.

“We were able to gather information about the projects and implementation sites of the different stakeholders, understand the strategic priorities of the local administration, and make sense of the implementing strategies being employed by different stakeholders, highlighting key assumptions for designing interventions,” said Ros Brull.

The long-term goal of the workshop was to foster an operational and regular framework that coordinates strategies among different stakeholders in the same area. The active participation and positive reception that it yielded underscore the potential for fruitful partnership in the Mintom site. The activities were concluded with a note of appreciation from the head of the development project in Mintom, who praised the efforts made by CIFOR-ICRAF to improve communication between administrations and implementers, and between actors.

Participants share ideas during the workshop in Mintom. Photo by Guillermo Ros Brull/CIFOR-ICRAF


The SWM Programme in Cameroon is part of the global SWM Programme. It is funded by the EU and implemented by CIFOR-ICRAF, FAO, and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.

The SWM Programme is a major international initiative that aims to improve wildlife conservation and food security in forest, savannah and wetland ecosystems. It is being funded by the European Union, with co-funding from the French Facility for Global Environment and the French Development Agency. Projects are being piloted and tested with governments and communities in fifteen participating countries.

The programme is being implemented by a dynamic consortium of four partners with expertise in wildlife conservation and food security. It is led by the FAO and implemented by CIFOR-ICRAF, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cifor-icraf.org.
Topic(s) :   Wildlife