Subsistence Hunting and the Conservation of Neotropical Wildlife

This discussion topic submitted by Peter Claggett ( on 5/1/98.

Subsistence hunting of wildlife is pervasive throughout the neotropics. Many Amer-indian and mestizo households rely on hunting wildlife for suppling a significant percentage of their animal protein needs. The periodic sale of game meat, skins, hides, and feathers also provides an important source of supplemental income for many poor households. In contrast to the economic benefits generated from hunting, moderate to heavy hunting pressure may lower mammalian densities 80-94%.

My discussion will focus on the impacts of subsistence hunting on wildlife populations in the neotropics and on measures currently taken by local communities and conservation organizations in order to promote the "sustainable" harvest of wildlife.

I. Economic importance of subsistence hunting
a. Household economic importance
b. Community economic importance
II. Causes of over-harvesting
a. What is meant by "over-harvesting"?
b. What species are more vulnerable to over-harvesting
b. Demographic, economic, technological, cultural and political factors
c. Synergistic causes
i. deforestation, habitat alteration and fragmentation
III. Consequences of over-harvesting
a. Impacts to species
b. Impacts to ecosystem structure and function
c. Impacts to humans
IV. Measures to evaluate over-harvesting
a. Wildlife surveys
b. Robinson/redford model of sustainable harvests
V. Measures to achieve "sustainable" harvests
a. Communal reserves
i. Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo, Peru
b. Ecotourism
ii.Primate sanctuary in Belize
c. Captive breeding programs
i. Agouti paca in Peru
d. Government and NGO measures to address the causes of "over-harvesting"


Alvard, M., 1995. "Shotguns and Sustainable hunting in the Neotropics" Oryx, Vol. 29(1):58-66.

Bodmer, R.E., 1995. "Priorities for the conservation of mammals in the Peruvian Amazon." Oryx, Vol. 29(1):23-28.

Bodmer, R.E., et. al., 1994. "Managing Wildlife to Conserve Amazonian Forests: Population Biology and Economic Considerations of Game Hunting." Biological Conservation. Vol.67:29-35.

Hames, R., 1991. "Wildlife Conservation in Tribal Societies. In Biodiversity: Culture, Conservation and Ecodevelopment", M.L. Oldfield and J.B. Alcorn (eds.), Boulder: WestView Press, pp. 172-199.

redford, K.H. 1992. "The Empty Forest." BioScience Vol. 42:412-422.

Robinson, J.G. and redford, K.H., 1991. "Sustainable Harvest of Neotropcial Forest Animals." In Neotropical Wildlife use and Conservation, J.G. Robinson and K.H. redford (eds.), Chicago, University of Chicago Press. pp.6-23.

Robinson, J.G. and redford, K.H., 1994. "Community-based Approaches to Wildlife Conservatoin in Neotropical Forests." In Natural Connections, D. western and R. M. Wright (eds.), Washington, D.C.:Island Press, pp. 300-319.

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