Mapping hotspots of threatened species traded in bushmeat markets in the Cross-Sanaga Rivers region
Bushmeat markets exist in many countries in West and Central Africa, and data on species sold can be used to detect patterns of wildlife trade in a region. We surveyed 89 markets within the Cross–Sanaga rivers region, West Africa. In each market, we counted the number of carcasses of each taxon sold. During a 6-month period (7594 market days), 44 mammal species were traded. Thirteen species were on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List or protected under national legislation, and at least 1 threatened species was traded in 88 of the 89 markets. We used these data to identify market groups that traded similar species assemblages. Using cluster analyses, we detected 8 market groups that were also geographically distinct. Market groups differed in the diversity of species, evenness of species, and dominant, prevalent, and characteristic species traded. We mapped the distribution of number of threatened species traded across the study region. Most threatened species were sold in markets nearest 2 national parks, Korup National Park in Cameroon and Cross River in Nigeria. To assess whether the threatened-species trade hotspots coincided with the known ranges of these species, we mapped the overlap of all threatened species traded. Markets selling more threatened species overlapped with those regions that had higher numbers of these. Our study can provide wildlife managers in the region with better tools to discern zones within which to focus policing efforts and reduce threats to species that are threatened by the bushmeat trade.