Changes in subsistence hunting threaten local food security

Changes in subsistence hunting threaten local food security
Scientists say that subsistence hunting in Neotropical rain forests -- the mainstay of local people as a source of protein and a direct connection to these ecosystems -- is in jeopardy from a variety of factors. Credit: Galo Zapata-Rios/WCS

Scientists with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and WCS Ecuador Program publishing in the journal BioTropica say that subsistence hunting in Neotropical rain forests—the mainstay of local people as a source of protein and a direct connection to these ecosystems—is in jeopardy from a variety of factors.

The authors say that the relatively small groups that hunted in large and mostly undisturbed forests, using traditional weapons, have been replaced by a growing population using fragmented habitats and modern methods. Meanwhile, increased exploitation from mining, oil exploitation and tourism has fueled a rapidly growing commercial trade in wildlife.

Thus, the authors say that subsistence hunting is less likely to be sustainable, threatening the food security of local people and the persistence of with critical roles in the functioning of Neotropical rain forests.

Said co-author Galo Zapata-Ríos, Science Director of WCS's Ecuador Program: "No longer can subsistence hunting be seen or managed as a sustainable activity carried out by small, isolated human groups occupying large tracts of natural habitat and using traditional hunting methods. Any approach to the problem must take into account the fundamentally different context in which subsistence hunting occurs in the present day."

Managing subsistence hunting in this changing context will require a more efficient combination of tools. These might include banning the hunting of large and sensitive species, shifting toward smaller species with high reproductive rates, coupled with strengthening protected areas—some of which are already under threat of being downgraded, downsized, or degazetted.

One approach to addressing this might be participatory zoning, to designate residential areas and areas where farming, gathering non-timber forest products, forestry and hunting can be practiced sustainably, while allowing for the designation of no-hunting areas that serve as source areas for hunted species. Other tools include diversification of income sources (e.g., ecotourism), production of domestic animals for food, mini-livestock breeding, and payment for ecosystem services alternatives to reduce the role of wildlife protein on local people's subsistence.


Explore further

Amazonian hunters deplete wildlife but don't empty forests

More information: Esteban Suarez et al. Managing subsistence hunting in the changing landscape of Neotropical rain forests, Biotropica (2019). DOI: 10.1111/btp.12662
Journal information: Biotropica

Citation: Changes in subsistence hunting threaten local food security (2019, May 17) retrieved 19 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-subsistence-threaten-local-food.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
12 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more