The antelope looked exactly like a cartoon deer. It had rust-coloured fur, white spots on its hindquarters and an oddly regal bearing. Its throat had been slit, and it had just been dumped, rather unceremoniously, on the hard-packed black earth of the burning area at Atwemonom, the open-air abattoir at the centre of Ghana’s commercial bushmeat trade.
The antelope – a female bushbuck – arrived at dawn in a white plastic sack out of a rickety van. It was delivered along with 15 grasscutters (greater cane rats, which look like large guinea pigs and are about a foot long), eight giant rats and two hares. The market woman supervising the delivery had the butchers count everything twice.
Once the audit was done, a butcher singed the fur off the creatures over an open fire, then hauled the carcasses over to the nearby slaughter slab. That, by the way, is something of a misnomer. All the wild game that finds its way to Atwemonom is already dead. Nothing actually gets slaughtered here apart from the occasional visibly anxious goat.