Monkeys on the Menu? Reconciling Patterns of Primate Hunting and Consumption in a Central African Village

  • Carolyn Jost RobinsonEmail author
  • Lesley L. Daspit
  • Melissa J. Remis
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


The bushmeat crisis is often portrayed as a serious threat to primates, especially slow-reproducing ape species. And yet, most bushmeat markets in Central and West Africa are dominated by ungulates, rodents, and carnivores. While markets are a measure of hunters’ off-take, they may not adequately capture information on species consumed in households or traded locally. Comparing changes in prey availability at markets, households, and other trading points can assist efforts to assess the magnitude of faunal extraction. Overall, subsistence needs of local human populations combined with the transnational demand for bushmeat results in the amplification of hunter catchments. What remains unclear is how the availability of nonhuman primates is reconciled with cultural preferences and market values to determine what appears in cooking pots. This study examines this question using market (n = 157 days) and hunter preference surveys (n = 290), in addition to semi-structured interviews with market women (n = 10) and hunters (n = 210) in the rural town of Bayanga, Central African Republic (2008–2009) located within the Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (APDS). Integrating multiple approaches, we were able to reconcile and contextualize discrepancies between market data, hunter surveys, and interviews with market women and community members. We found that the sale and consumption of primate meat at APDS was more likely related to a decline in preferred ungulate species along with an increase in the availability of firearms. These results suggest nuanced avenues for increasing the protection of vulnerable and endangered primate species with the introduction of well-priced, alternative protein sources.


Bushmeat crisis Non-human primate Central Africa Mixed-methods Preference 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn Jost Robinson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lesley L. Daspit
    • 3
  • Melissa J. Remis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North Carolina, WilmingtonWilmington, NCUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyPurdue University College of Liberal ArtsWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.International Studies ProgramUniversity of North Carolina, WilmingtonWilmington, NCUSA

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