Bush Meat Trade Thriving In Lagos State
By Grace Samuel
Wildlife trade in Lagos, Nigeria, has seen a significant rise in recent years, leading to the flourishing of bush meat markets in the city. Bush meat refers to the meat derived from wild animals, including primates, antelopes, porcupines, and pangolins, among others.
Lagos, being one of the largest cities in Africa with a population of over 20 million people, provides a lucrative market for bush meat. Traditional beliefs and cultural practices, as well as a demand for exotic and rare meats, contribute to the high demand for bush meat in the commercial city.
Reports say yhe trade is driven by a network of poachers, traffickers, and middlemen who exploit vulnerable ecosystems and wildlife populations, thus posing a significant threat to biodiversity and ecological balance.
Conservationists argue that the unregulated hunting and trade of bush meat is unsustainable and can lead to population declines and even extinctions of vulnerable species. The slow reproductive rates of apes and monkeys, for instance, make them particularly vulnerable to overhunting, as they are unable to replenish their populations quickly enough to keep up with the demand.
Furthermore, the bush meat trade also poses health risks to humans. Many diseases, including Ebola and HIV, have been linked to the consumption of bush meat. The handling and preparation of bush meat in unsanitary conditions can also lead to many diseases suffered by those who patronise them, unknown to them.
The availability of bush meat in Oluwo market in Epe, Lagos is abundant. The market offers a wide range of options, including crocodile, grass cutter, antelope, bush pig, and deer. These meats are available both seasoned and dried.
The market is not the only place where bush meat is sold; it is also a common sight in eateries and restaurants in the area. These establishments promote their catch both online and offline, and also offer a variety of local dishes.
Oluwo market is one of the largest markets in the city, and the sale of bush meat is not contested. The market has been a part of Epe city’s culture for a long time, and it has become deeply rooted in the community.
“About tens of thousands and thousands of Africans count number on bush meat and wild fish for up to eighty per cent of their protein, and latest calls to give up the exchange due to the fact of links to Ebola virus outbreaks should by no means be enforced”, stated Robert Nasi, Deputy Director General of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), as an estimated five million tonnes of bushmeat is ate up on the continent each and every year.
This consumption also overlaps with the unlawful trade networks, fueling the exchange in included species like elephants and pangolins. While research have proven that bush meat consumption in Nigeria is influenced by using a number of factors such as taste, health, and culture, there is little statistics on the attitudes, awareness, preferences, and reservations of the widely wide-spread public in predominant cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Calabar.
Wild Africa Fund (WAF), in 2020 sampled 2,000 respondents across four imperative cities in Nigeria. Results located that over 70 per cent of metropolis Nigerians have fed on bush meat at some point in their lives, and 45per cent ate up its interior the remaining year.
Taste and flavour are good sized elements influencing town bush meat consumption, with about fifty one per cent of bush meat customers indicating that it is one of the imperative motives for their choice.
The supply chain for bush meat is diverse and mostly dependent on the species at play. Primary suppliers, such as hunters, are the first in the supply chain. They usually harvest grass cutters from the wild and sell it to nearby intermediaries or wholesalers, or directly to bush meat traders who then sell it to final customers, which include homeowners and restaurant owners.
The bush meat vendors at Oluwo market claim that they buy grass cutters from hunters in far-off and surrounding communities and transport them to cities. Since pangolins are thought to be the most traded wild mammal in the world, bush meat dealers claim to get live pangolins from hunters in nearby towns and villages that are located near forests.
Even though the meat is consumed locally, bush meat dealers frequently collaborate to combine scales into bigger quantities, which they subsequently sell to primarily Chinese expats. These individuals then illicitly transport the scales to China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Chinese middlemen may go to rural areas to make direct purchases from agents or middlemen who compile scales from hunters.
According to the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), between 2016 and 2019, an estimated 206.4 tonnes of pangolin scales were collected; over half of these seizures were traced to Nigeria, demonstrating the country’s significant participation in the pangolin scale supply chain.