Just in case you are not familiar with the Kubwa express way, it is the road that links the FCT to Dutse, Kubwa, all in Bwari area council in Abuja and it also leads to Zuba from where you proceed to Kaduna, Suleja or Lokoja.
Along the express road, adjacent to the Federal Civil Service College, before now is a location you may not probably miss because that is where you see a gathering of hunters displaying their wares, assorted brands of slaughtered animals popularly called bush meat. The case is different now as the meat sellers sit all day without anyone coming to patronize them.
Bush meat delicacy is on the menu of a number of restaurants and especially relaxation centres in cities and villages across the country. It is not unusual for residents of Abuja and environs to stop at the bush meat centre and purchase their favorites which may include but not limited to, antelope, grass cutter, fine boy (monkey), alligator or monitor lizard, bush (guinea) fowl, rabbit (giant rat) and even some species of snakes considered edible.
It is a common sight to see young men excavating large expanses of land in the bush in the hunt for rodents or setting traps for other unsuspecting animals. “Increase in population has led to higher demand for survival and these hunters hold a lot of hope for majority of Nigerians who see it as viable means of food and economic survival,” is the position of an indigene of Jama’a local government of Kaduna state who has patronized the hunter/traders for over three years.
Researchers estimate that about half a million tonnes of wild animals are killed every year in Nigeria, for consumption with possible fears that these animals may eventually go into extinction. Indeed, some species of wild animals that were abundant a few decades ago are no longer in existence or difficult to come by. It is believed that low fat content is part of reasons for the craze for it.
According to one of the regular customers, Mrs. Ibe Chukwunonso, “people like bush meat because it has less fat. Bush meat is expensive but it is worth it.” Asked if she still patronize this joint since the outbreak of Ebola, she said “how can I use my money to buy death, the disease is deadly and one doesn’t know which of the animals carries the EVD, so the best thing is to avoid eating them for now”.
For the past 10 years, one of the hunters, Babangida Hassan, has stalked animals in and around the wooded hills of Abuja. Married with six children and an indigene of Zamfara state said, a grass cutter sells for as much as between N4, 500 and N5, 000, depending on the size. He says, “I came into this trade as a result of hardship, to enable me meet up with economic challenges and you know, I have to feed and send my children to school.” In periods of drought, Babangida who would not want to disappoint his numerous customers has to travel as far as Kogi state to get bush meat from the hunters there and resell in Abuja.
According to him, “population growth and hunting have driven animals into the deep forest and we have to satisfy the needs of our customers who rely on us because bush meat has become a popular delicacy. With the coming of Ebola, our business has crumbled and we don’t see buyers anymore. We hardly sell a piece of meat in this place. We want to call on the federal government to consolidate on its efforts in making sure that the Ebola thing is eradicated from Nigeria completely.
“Schools are to resume soon, but as I speak to you I don’t have any savings I can’t even pay my children school fees. We want the government to help us so that we can be back on our feet’s again” Hassan said.
Source: Daily Times