Bushmeat hunting and use in the Makira Forest, north-eastern Madagascar: a conservation and livelihoods issue

Christopher D. Goldena1 p1 c1

a1 Harvard College, Cambridge, MA, USA.


In the 2003 Durban Vision the Malagasy government committed to tripling the amount of protected areas in Madagascar by 2009. This extensive expansion needs to involve an assessment of the potential impacts on the people who rely on forest resources for subsistence. Wildlife for human consumption (bushmeat) is one such resource that has received great attention on mainland Africa but has largely been ignored in Madagascar until recently. In terms of biomass, hunting in Madagascar appears to be on a lesser scale compared to areas of mainland Africa. However, because of the life-history characteristics associated with hunted primate and carnivore species in Madagascar even small-scale hunting is a major threat to long-term conservation. In this study I used semi-structured interviews to quantify annual rates of bushmeat harvest in 14 villages adjacent to the Makira Forest in north-eastern Madagascar. Interviews revealed that 23 mammal species were hunted for consumption, providing a new insight into the scale and frequency of bushmeat use. Harvest data and life-history information were sufficient to allow quantitative assessments of sustainability for four species of lemur (black and white ruffed lemur Varecia variegata, indri Indri indri, eastern bamboo lemur Hapalemur griseus and white-fronted brown lemur Eulemur albifrons) and a species of the carnivore family Eupleridae (fossa Cryptoprocta ferox). Model results suggest hunting of these species is probably unsustainable. This research presents clear evidence that hunting is a major conservation and livelihoods issue in Madagascar and needs to be considered in the planning stages of protected area development to address better the needs of local people.

(Received October 28 2007)

(Reviewed December 03 2007)

(Accepted March 04 2008)


c1 Harvard College, Cambridge, MA, USA. E-mail cgolden@nature.berkeley.edu

p1 Current address: Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, 137 Mulford Hall, Kremen Lab, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA.