Drivers of Bushmeat Hunting and Perceptions of Zoonoses in Nigerian Hunting Communities

Sagan Friant, Sarah B. Paige, Tony L. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Bushmeat hunting threatens biodiversity and increases the risk of zoonotic pathogen transmission. Nevertheless, limited information exists on patterns of contact with wildlife in communities that practice bushmeat hunting, especially with respect to social drivers of hunting behavior. We used interview responses from hunters and non-hunters in rural hunting communities in Nigeria to: 1) quantify contact rates with wildlife, 2) identify specific hunting behaviors that increase frequency of contact, 3) identify socioeconomic factors that predispose individuals to hunt, and 4) measure perceptions of risk. Participants engaged in a variety of behaviors that increased contact with wild animals, including: butchering to sell (37%), being injured (14%), using body parts for traditional medicine (19%), collecting carcasses found in forests and/or farms (18%), and keeping as pets (16%). Hunters came into contact with wildlife significantly more than non-hunters, even through non-hunting exposure pathways. Participants reported hunting rodents (95%), ungulates (93%), carnivores (93%), primates (87%), and bats (42%), among other prey. Reported hunting frequencies within taxonomic groups of prey were different for different hunting behaviors. Young age, lower education level, larger household size, having a father who hunts, and cultural group were all associated with becoming a hunter. Fifty-five percent of respondents were aware that they could contract diseases from wild animals, but only 26% of these individuals reported taking protective measures. Overall, hunters in this setting frequently contact a diversity of prey in risky ways, and the decision to become a hunter stems from family tradition, modified by economic necessity. Conservation and public health interventions in such settings may be most efficient when they capitalize on local knowledge and target root socio-economic and cultural drivers that lead to hunting behavior. Importantly, interventions that target consumption alone will not be sufficient; other drivers and modes of interaction with wildlife must also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0003792
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 22 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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