Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 13, pp 3669–3689 | Cite as

Poverty not taste drives the consumption of protected species in Madagascar

  • Samuel D. MersonEmail author
  • Luke J. Dollar
  • Paul J. Johnson
  • David W. Macdonald
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity exploitation and use


Bushmeat consumption in Madagascar is increasingly acknowledged as one of the major threats to its wild vertebrates. Nevertheless, few studies have examined the drivers of the consumption of protected versus legally huntable wild species, or examined its variance across Madagascar’s protected and unprotected areas. This research provides a novel study of the consumption of protected, unprotected, and fish/eel species between forest types (deciduous and rainforest), as well as across a gradient of protected habitat (National Park, Reserve, Unprotected). Members of 1750 households were interviewed across four regions, including two national parks, two reserves, and two unprotected forests. Household demographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic variables were explored as possible predictors of bushmeat consumption. We found that poorer households reported consuming greater quantities of protected species whereas wealthier households reported consuming greater quantities of fish and eel. Households located inside Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar’s most visited protected area, reported consuming the greatest quantities of protected species. Interviewees’ most favoured meat was from livestock, and fish. The consumption pattern of wild species reflected interviewees’ stated preference for species that are either unlisted (e.g. tilapia fish) under Malagasy species protection laws, classified as pest (e.g. bushpig) and/or game species (e.g. tenrec). Most protected species (such as lemurs and carnivorans) were interviewees’ least favoured wild meats. Given the lack of cultural affinity, and low preference for the consumption of most protected species, our results suggest that improving accessibility to domestic meat is a promising strategy for reducing the consumption of protected species.


Bushmeat Food insecurity Poaching Hunting Illegal trade Protected areas 



This study was funded by Megafaun, the Fossa Fund of Duisburg Zoo, and the Pollard Fund of Wadham College. A debt of gratitude is owed to the communities who graciously hosted us and participated in our research. Thank you to our hardworking field team, and the organisations that helped us, including Fanamby, Chances for Nature, and MICET. Thank you to the Madagascar National Parks and the Madagascar Government for granting the permission to conduct this research.


This study was funded by Megafaun, the Fossa Fund of Duisburg Zoo, and the Pollard Fund of Wadham College.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical clearance and research approval was Granted by The University of Oxford’s Central University Research Ethics Committee (Number: SSD/CUREC1A/14-010).

Informed consent

Informed consent was sought before interviews.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceCatawba CollegeSalisburyUSA
  4. 4.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordTubneyUK

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