, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 2627-2653

Impact of game hunting by the Kayapó of south-eastern Amazonia: implications for wildlife conservation in tropical forest indigenous reserves

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Abstract

Indigenous forest reserves represent approximately one fifth of Brazilian Amazonia and pose enormous challenges for sustainable natural resource management by native Amazonians. In collaboration with the Kayapó Indians of A’Ukre of southeastern Amazonia, we obtained a game harvest profile of over 1360 forest vertebrates consumed at this village over a 20-month period, including 743 mammals, 361 forest tortoises and 256 birds from a minimum of 42 game species. This amounted to a total of 13,775 kg of game animals harvested over the entire study (mean = 26.2 kg d−1). We also obtained some 450 km of line transect census data of midsized to large-bodied vertebrates within the core hunting catchment of this village and in an unhunted but otherwise comparable site upriver of A’Ukre. Population density estimates of 16 of the 18 species censused were significantly depressed by hunting by central place foragers within the village catchment, and a number of harvest-sensitive prey species showed clear evidence of local depletion. For the time being, however, we can conclude that hunting was sustainable at the landscape scale largely because source-sink dynamics in the context of low village catchment density is made possible by large surrounding tracts of primary forest that remain unharvested or underharvested.