Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 931–946 | Cite as

Interactive impacts of by-catch take and elite consumption of illegal wildlife

  • R. L. StirnemannEmail author
  • I. A. Stirnemann
  • D. Abbot
  • D. Biggs
  • R. Heinsohn
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity exploitation and use


Harvesting, consumption and trade of forest meat are key causes of biodiversity loss. Successful mitigation programs are proving difficult to design, in part because anthropogenic pressures are treated as internationally uniform. Despite illegal hunting being a key conservation issue in the Pacific Islands, there is a paucity of research. Here, we examine the dynamics of hunting of birds and determine how these contribute to biodiversity loss on the islands of Samoa. We focus on the interactive effects of hunting on two key seed dispersing bird species: the Pacific pigeon (Ducula pacifica) and the critically endangered Manumea or tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigiristris). We interviewed hunters, vendors and consumers and analyzed household consumption. Results suggest that over 22,000 pigeons were consumed per year and this is by primarily the richest people across the country. Indeed, the wealthiest 10% of households consumed 43% of all wild pigeon meat, and the wealthiest 40% of households consumed 80% of all pigeons. The Manumea was shot by 33% (n = 30) of the surveyed hunters while pursuing the Pacific pigeon. Results raise serious conservation concerns, as pigeon hunting is likely to be a key factor contributing to the decline of the Manumea and critical forest seed dispersers in general. Our results show that wild meat consumption can lead to non-targeted pressure on bycatch species. Wild meat harvesting and consumption is a key issue leading to species declines and extinctions in the tropics. It is critical that this issue receives the appropriate attention and is addressed in the Pacific if species and forests are to be maintained.


Bushmeat Illegal wildlife trade Supply chain Poaching Hunting Inequality 



We are grateful for the Grants from the Darwin DEFRA Project 21-001, Auckland Zoo and the Rufford Conservation Grant which have supported this Project. We also thank the Samoan government and Ministry of Natural Resources, Australian National University and the Samoa Conservation Society for their support in implementing this Project. In additional we thank the Samoa Statistics Bureau for allowing us to use the HIES data for this study. We are grateful for all participants in the field and the support for all the villages and local people who took part in the surveys and without whom this Project would not be possible. Further, thanks to Tiffany Straza, Greg Shirley, Mark O’Brien and Tommy Moore for all their input into the manuscript in its development and to Ryan Wright for his graphing of the HIES sites.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyThe Australian National UniversityActonAustralia
  2. 2.Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group, Institute of Landscape EcologyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  3. 3.Statistics ConsultancyViennaUSA
  4. 4.ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Conservation Ecology and EntomologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  6. 6.IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Groupc/IUCNGlandSwitzerland

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