Bushmeat and the Future of Protein in West Africa

Malnutrition is a major concern in Africa. The lack of protein in particular is of special concern because access is limited and starchy diets predominate. For generations, the lack of protein has stunted the physical and mental development of millions of children on the continent, limiting their overall potential.

In fact, one cannot fully understand the underdevelopment of Africa’s human capital without grasping the hidden, yet lifelong effects of protein deficiency. Although overall nutrition and protein consumption in Africa has improved in the past two decades, the challenge of sufficient protein consumption remains, especially among the poor.

This issue explores the animal protein challenge in West Africa, and highlights how consuming wildlife as a source of protein threatens the ecosystem. Demand for bushmeat has created a vibrant trade, which is endangering the existence of wildlife and destroying forests and grasslands, as hunters employ crude hunting methods like bush burning. Our first article examines some of the challenges of bushmeat consumption, while the second explores the potential for domesticating grasscutters (cane rats) as a way to meet rising demand. The third article looks at edible insects and their potential as a viable source of dietary protein.

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