Writing in the journal Animal Frontiers, the researchers say that while wild animals can be tricky to catch, bushmeat contributes 20 to 90 percent of the animal protein eaten in many areas of Africa.
"The elephant or hippopotamus may provide food for an entire community, smaller antelope may feed a family, while a rat or lizard may quell the hunger of an individual," researchers Louw Hoffman and Donna Cawthorn said in the journal article.
"Alternatively, these species are often sold on the road side or at local markets to supply a much needed source of cash revenue."
A study of the nutritional value of wild animals revealed some bushmeat species are high in protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, a release from American Society of Animal Science said.
Nutrients from wild animals help people survive in regions of sub-Saharan Africa, Hoffman and Cawthorn wrote, but with increased consumption comes a loss of biodiversity.
"This situation is exacerbated by the fact that international and domestic commercial and often illegal trade in bushmeat and other parts of wild animals is increasing and is largely outpacing legitimate subsistence hunting."