The biology and use of the African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus, Gray, 1842)as a food animal. A review

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Abstract

The brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus) is a hystricomorph rodent, which frequents the forests of West and Central Africa. With an average weight of 3 kg, it is a favourite source of meat for urban and rural populations of Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon or Congo. Hunted in large quantities, its price is often higher than that of other game or domestic animals. Although its current productivity in captivity is limited to a single young per birth and two to three births per year per female, this species could be a good candidate for minilivestock programmes in African forest areas if its current reproductive potential in captivity could be improved. Further research should be encouraged on its biology and reproduction since the current level of hunting for this species is probably not sustainable. Captive breeding programmes could play a role in assessing a better knowledge of the species‘ biology, and in reducing the effects of intensive hunting in areas where this activi ty is no longer sustainable.

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