Voices from the Ground: What to learn from a bushmeat consumption and trade survey across the huge landscape of Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic Congo

Yesterday we had our Voices from the Ground Event with William Crosmary from WWF Germany, who spoke about the bushmeat consumption and trade in the landscape of Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the very large-scale survey he and his team are implementing as part of the project.

William is the Project Manager of Easter & Southern Africa of WWF Germany. He holds a PhD in Biology and has 20 years of working experience in protected areas, species conservation, biomonitoring, animal behaviour, human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade and conservation policies in Africa.

He started the presentation with a first overview of the context, to better understand the framework/structure and some of the later mentioned challenges of the still on-going project. It is particularly important to understand the impact of the location of the project site alone. The Salonga landscape stretches over a very large area (> 63 500 km²) and consists of pristine tropical forest. Poor infrastructure, rivers and the rainy season made it sometimes very difficult to reach certain regions and communities to conduct the surveys.

William then went on to address the following points: communities that depend on the forest as their major source for food and income and the importance of the Salonga landscape as a source of bushmeat. The trade chain of bushmeat involves a lot of different parties such as hunters, wholesalers, rural households, market traders, secondary wholesalers and urban households. Each of these groups of people have their own context-specific health risks when dealing with wildlife and reasons why wildlife is being traded and consumed. The gender-related roles within the trade chain should be emphasised here because different strategies for action can arise from that. For example, men are traditionally involved in hunting wildlife, whereas women are responsible for selling it at the markets.

He went on to explain the exact methods being used and the development of the protocols, as well as the selection and training of the field teams. One of the realisations that emerged during the field work was the difficulty in ensuring the quality of the survey responses, as the communication with the teams in the field was limited.

Finally, the practical implementation and the to challenges corresponding adjustments to data collection, storing, processing and evaluation were discussed.

In the open discussion and Q&A that followed, the foreseen recommendations were addressed and, among other things, language barriers and their impact on the exact naming of species or place names, and the inclusion of the One Health approach with regard to staff were discussed.

Registered Alliance members can find the recording of the presentation in the members area under the Voices from the Ground Thread in the ‘News & Community’ forum.

Breaking Barriers Conference – livestreaming of Plenary Sessions


 “Breaking Barriers: Advancing the One Health Agenda with a Focus on Environment.”


This two-day event, organized by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nucelar Safety and Consumer Protection, the Quadripartiete Collaboration on One Health, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the German Agency for International Cooperation and the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade, will bring together decision-makers, scientists, and implementers taking action related to the environmental pillar of the One Health approach to push the agenda towards action.
Discussions will draw on insights from the Quadripartite’s One Health Joint Plan of Action and insights from the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP). It will focus on the environmental pillar of a One Health approach and provide a space to review the status of implementation, showcase experiences gained (including: challenges, success stories, ongoing questions and lessons learned), identify guidance for next steps towards action, and shed light on important topics that seem to receive less attention.
The event will, furthermore, emphasize economic approaches to valuing environmental assets and health, as well as economic drivers of challenges (such as growth-based models, inequalities, and inequities).

For all those who can’t make it to the event in Berlin in person, but still would like to be part of it, we will provide a live stream.

Here you find the Link to stream the keynote speeches: http://www.qandas.de/

Here you find the schedule

Expert Talk: Emerging infectious diseases at the animal-human interface

For our Expert Talk Event in September 2023, the Alliance invited Prof. Dr. Jan Felix Drexler who spoke about the special role of the animal-human interface in relation to emerging infectious diseases (EID), especially viral diseases. Jan Felix Drexler is a recognized medical doctor and virologist at Charité in Berlin, where he leads the virus epidemiology working group with focus on novel viruses from humans and animal reservoirs. He also works abroad as a consultant for the German Federal Government and provides information on how to deal with and prepare for pandemics, particularly in countries of the Global South. Since 2020, he led advisory trips to Benin, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and over 20 other countries on the subject of the COVID-19 pandemic, including donations of PCR tests designed to diagnose locally relevant SARS-CoV-2 variants, tests to assess immune responses elicited by locally used COVID-19 vaccines and human capacity development in handling highly pathogenic viruses.

Th event started off with Jan Felix Drexler presenting on wildlife-associated viral EIDs, their origin, zoonotic potential and its relevance for humans. His presentation gave a clear overview also on the difficulties regarding the estimation unknown viruses due to biases like the PCR breadth, the fact that studies mostly focus on a single host or a single country and only few sample types being used. Dr. Drexler explained why we are currently entering an age of pandemics and what human behaviour has to do with it. Globalisation, land-use changes, biodiversity loss, the animal-human interface, and climate change are among those factors that contribute to increased viral spillover risks. In this context, the possible methods of preparation and, in some cases, their limits for future pandemics were discussed. Jan Felix Drexler emphasized that most viral host switches will are likely to occur in the Global South due to, among other things, high biodiversity. At the same time these regions have a greater risk for the severeness of a future pandemic because of limited resources. However, looking at international collaboration, countries from the Global South are often underrepresented. Closing the presentation with an outlook on how to address spillover risks, according to Jan Felix Drexler, adequate preparedness for pandemics can only be achieved through prevention at the source, timely detection, and rapid response mechanisms.

In the subsequent open discussion, the importance of interdisciplinarity and the necessity that essential risks such as future pandemics need to be viewed through different lenses was underlined. Besides, speaker and attendees discussed the connection between biodiversity loss and the emergence of new infectious diseases in different scenarios, as well as the increasing awareness of the interconnectedness of environment and health factors at civil society and political levels.

Registered Alliance members can find the recording of the presentation in the members area under the Expert Talk Thread in the ‘News & Community’ forum.

Field Report from Congo on the risk along the bushmeat trade chain

Zoonosis risk along the bushmeat value-chains. The case of Salonga National Park and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Funded Period:           December 2021 – May 2023
Reporting Period:       June 2022 – December 2022

What is it about?
The overall objective of this project is to identify and map the risks of zoonotic disease transmission in bushmeat trade along value-chains from a source to the end markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That includes characterising and assessing the scale of the bushmeat trade between a National Park and urban centres, the species consumed and traded, the modes and drivers behind the consumption and trade along the value-chains, detecting and measuring the presence of pathogens in bushmeat samples at varoius nodes of the value-chains, quantifying the risks triggering pathogen presence and loads, transmission to humans, and spread of infections to human populations along the value-chains. 

More information about the project here

Status Quo of the Project:

  • the data collection in the field was finalised: 170 markets and bushmeat sales/trade points surveyed, 832 biological samples of bushmeat collected, 1660 questionnaires and focus groups conducted
  • the data are currently being finalised
  • lab protocols were developed, and lab analyses started
  • recommendations will be shared with national and international institutions, NGOs, CSOs and the general population to develop a reference framework for the fundraising, design and implementation of a behavioural and demand reduction campaign to reduce the zoonotic spillover risk.
Taking samples, copyright by William Crosmary (WWF)

Key messages:

  • Teaming up with a renown and governmental rooted local partner helped to get the buy-in by the national and local authorities.
  • Building the local communities’ trust is essential for researchers to be able collect data and information. This is being done by explaining the purpose of the study in detail and presenting the study as a tool contributing to the reduction of current and future health risks, so that the benefits for the communities are made clear. 

International context/relevance in the international context:

The gained insights can be used as an example for this region and neighbouring countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo is an exceptionally important country in the context of zoonotic spillover risks from wildlife due to its very high biodiversity and the high wildlife consumption. Some of the results/insights can be used for similar contexts in other countries.