BY MIRRIAM NASILELE
ZAMBIA is grappling with a significant challenge posed by the illegal bushmeat trade, a grave threat to wildlife populations. The escalating demand for bushmeat in urban markets has fuelled an increasingly organised and commercial illegal trade. Shockingly, a 2017 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that the consumption of bushmeat in Zambia’s capital
city, Lusaka, amounts to 1,140 tons annually, with the actual demand being 50 times higher than this figure
i]Zambia’s bushmeat trade is not only lucrative but also environmentally destructive and unsustainable, impacting not just ungulate populations but the entire wildlife ecosystem. The use of snares by poachers, described as silent and indiscriminate killers, leads to significant bycatch. The depletion of ungulate populations, which are hunted for bushmeat, has far-reaching consequences, particularly for carnivores.[ii]This issue was emphasised by Peter Lindsey, Director of Lion Recovery Fund,
during the launch of WCP Zambia’s “This Is Not A Game” Campaign Evaluation report. On 4 December 2023, WCP launched a report evaluating the “This Is Not A Game” campaign evaluation against illegal bushmeat in Zambia.
The report to furnish lawmakers, partners, stakeholders, and the media with the impact of its demand reduction campaign targeting the illegal bushmeat trade. This initiative launched in 2017
in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, stands out as Zambia’s first captivating behaviour change campaign addressing the trade and consumption of illegal bushmeat. The campaign employs a multi-channel approach, leveraging social media, key influencers, as well as traditional TV and radio channels for dissemination. The overall message conveyed was that consuming illegal bushmeat is against the law, poses health risks, and spreads diseases.
During the launch, a panel discussion featuring four passionate panellists, committed to addressing Zambia’s wildlife challenges, took place. Julius Luwaya, owner of Peza Foods and a seasoned legal game meat trader, shared insights into the challenges surrounding the legal game meat industry. He highlighted the difficulty of marketing legal game meat openly, as consumers often expect it to be sold discreetly, in the form of dry meat and bundled as in the case of illegal bushmeat. The report drew from both qualitative and quantitative data gathered through online and phone call surveys as well as focus group discussions across Lusaka, Kitwe, Livingstone, and Chipata. The findings revealed promising results among its target audience, with 78 percent of the 140 respondents who actively followed the campaign online confirming changes in their bushmeat consumption practices. A significant 60 percent of this group reported abstaining from wild meat consumption in the last three years demonstrating the intended behaviour outcome of the campaign.
However, the findings show the need to extend the campaign’s reach to a larger segment of urban consumers who have not yet engaged with the messaging. To effectively combat the growing threat of
the illegal bushmeat trade, the behaviour change campaign must amplify its messaging through proven channels and focus on issues resonating with the target demographic.
Moreover, the report identifies opportunities for the legal game meat industry to tap into the substantial demand for wildlife meat. By improving marketing strategies and particularly
by providing dry legal game meat alternatives to match the illegal product that is currently available and acceptable to the consumers.