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How Important is Bushmeat Consumption in South America: Now and in the Future?

Briefing/policy papers

Between 5 to 8 million people in South America rely regularly on bushmeat as a source of protein in their diets. This represents only 1.4 to 2.2% of the total continental population, but these people are likely to be some of the poorest in the region. In terms of its contributions to the overall supply of meat in the region, bushmeat would appear to have very little importance. The future importance of bushmeat will depend on two factors: the economic growth of the South American economies and the ability of the livestock and fishery sectors to supply affordable protein. If both of these factors are positive over the next time period, it is suggested that bushmeat will further reduce in importance both in terms of the number of people who consume such meat and the total quantity of meat consumed. Improvement in people’s livelihoods in the Amazon region might well reduce bushmeat consumption and hence hunting pressures. However, the limitations in the data available on consumption patterns and changing preferences over time suggest a need for caution on the likely future scenarios.

Jonathan Rushton, Rommy Viscarra, Cecilia Viscarra, Frederick Basset, Rene Baptista, David Brown