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PLoS One. 2016 Sep 15;11(9):e0162972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162972. eCollection 2016.

Characterising Wildlife Trade Market Supply-Demand Dynamics.

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Imperial College London, Division of Biology, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berks, United Kingdom.
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London, United Kingdom.
Centre for African Wetlands, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
Ghana Wildlife Division, Forestry Commission, Accra, Ghana.
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The trade in wildlife products can represent an important source of income for poor people, but also threaten wildlife locally, regionally and internationally. Bushmeat provides livelihoods for hunters, traders and sellers, protein to rural and urban consumers, and has depleted the populations of many tropical forest species. Management interventions can be targeted towards the consumers or suppliers of wildlife products. There has been a general assumption in the bushmeat literature that the urban trade is driven by consumer demand with hunters simply fulfilling this demand. Using the urban bushmeat trade in the city of Kumasi, Ghana, as a case study, we use a range of datasets to explore the processes driving the urban bushmeat trade. We characterise the nature of supply and demand by explicitly considering three market attributes: resource condition, hunter behaviour, and consumer behaviour. Our results suggest that bushmeat resources around Kumasi are becoming increasingly depleted and are unable to meet demand, that hunters move in and out of the trade independently of price signals generated by the market, and that, for the Kumasi bushmeat system, consumption levels are driven not by consumer choice but by shortfalls in supply and consequent price responses. Together, these results indicate that supply-side processes dominate the urban bushmeat trade in Kumasi. This suggests that future management interventions should focus on changing hunter behaviour, although complementary interventions targeting consumer demand are also likely to be necessary in the long term. Our approach represents a structured and repeatable method to assessing market dynamics in information-poor systems. The findings serve as a caution against assuming that wildlife markets are demand driven, and highlight the value of characterising market dynamics to inform appropriate management.

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