Maputaland Tree Butcheries


The once common tree butchery of Maputaland have all but vanished for non technical reasons. I plan to investigate it a bit and see if there is a basis for new business. I would appreciate any feedback or ideas from anyone interested.

At the time that I was working on palm wine preservation in Maputaland, I sometimes ate at the local tree butcheries and was always interested in how they operated,

Cattle were slaughtered occasionally in response to the demand to ensure that meat was not stored for long periods. Slaughtering was done by hanging the carcass from a tree and carefully removing the innards intact. these were separated into usable and waste material and the waste buried.


Passersby either made a meal of the meat which was braaied (the South African term for barbecue) on the spot or bought to take home.

What was noticeable about the meat was the deeper yellow colour of the fat, the fact that it was tougher and tastier than the meat from the supermarket and that it was sometimes still warm!
The tree butcheries were evaluated microbiologically to understand their impact on consumer health. It was found that the meat matched that from a modern microbiologically, but that the animal health issues were not addressed according to modern standards. It was concluded that the main contribute to the hygiene at the tree butcheries was the periods when slaughtering did not take place which broke microbial build up and the simple cleanliness practices.

The tree butcheries no longer exist, apparently due mainly to police interventions aimed at controlling stock theft that became rife in the mid nineties.

I believe an attempt should be made to re look at this enterprise which created jobs and a market for cattle, to try and design a new business model matching the current situation

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