Untamed and rare: the transformation of wild into luxury
I conducted a bushmeat commodity chain analysis to trace the production and consumption of “bushmeat” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bushmeat consists of the various types of wild animals hunted from the forest interior and includes various monkey species, antelope, bush-pig, and buffalo, among others. Interviews were conducted in Monkoto (Salonga National Park), Mbandaka (a mid-sized city and large hub of bushmeat transport) and in Kinshasha (the main source of bushmeat sale and consumption). A primary objective of the study was to define the consumers’ profile and evaluate the quantities and type of game purchased. The differences between markets within Kinshasa in terms of type, quantity, and price of bushmeat was also surveyed. Additionally, the study aimed to map out main transport routes (bicycle, river, and road) and those involved in the trade. Finally, a restaurant survey and interviews were conducted to evaluate the “luxury” market. A second portion of the research was undertaken in Paris, aimed at elucidating the extent of the illegal import market into Europe.
Consumer interviews were primarily informal and in the markets. They were conducted to illuminate preference and occasion for bushmeat consumption, which was then compared with price and availability at that particular market for a fuller understanding of the customer base. In Monkoto, interviews were conducted with hunters and women involved in the forest product trade to elucidate the driving motivators for poaching, the price received for meat, and the terms of the transactions (trade, cash, bullets, etc.). Commerçants (Traders) were interviewed to define the logistical qualities of transport and the timing from forest to market. Interviews were conducted with vendors at a variety of market types. These interviews were conducted to understand 1) the change in bushmeat price and availability over time, 2) the customer profile, and 3) the motivation for selling bushmeat (as opposed to other items). A number of people involved with law enforcement were interviewed including ICCN guards, FARDC (Operation Bonobo), a professor at Université de Kinshasa, a top official at the Ministry of the Environment, employees of Air France, and French Police and Customs.