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Wildlife in the life of local people of the semi-arid Argentine Chaco

Abstract

The semi-arid Argentine Chaco is inhabited by mestizo people, who live on an economy of subsistence based on the use of natural resources and livestock ranching. I investigated the dietary and economic importance of wildlife for local people. Through interviews and participant observation, I found that wildlife is used primarily as food, providing about a third of the total meat consumed by local peasants. Local people use at least 26 species of wildlife although they concentrate on few species. Small species, Chacoan cavies and armadillos, are consumed most, representing 48% of the total wild meat consumed. Consumption of wild meat follows seasonal patterns determined by hunting methods, preferences for meat quality and species activity patterns. The consumptive value of wild meat is high in comparison with wages, but lower in comparison with forest exploitation. Illegal commercialization of wildlife is practiced mainly by villagers and by outsiders and it affects endangered species. Patterns of use of wildlife by local people differ from other Latin American groups in terms of the range of species hunted and the role that hunting plays in local people’ livelihoods. The first steps towards conservation of this increasingly threatened region should involve decreasing hunting by local people of the more vulnerable species and controlling all illegal commercial hunting.

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Correspondence to Mariana Altrichter.

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Altrichter, M. Wildlife in the life of local people of the semi-arid Argentine Chaco. Biodivers Conserv 15, 2719–2736 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-005-0307-5

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  • Argentina
  • Armadillos
  • Chaco
  • Conservation
  • Hunting
  • Peccaries
  • Pediolagus
  • Tayassu
  • Wild meat