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Garden Game: Shifting Cultivation, Indigenous Hunting and Wildlife Ecology in Western Panama

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Abstract

Participatory research documented the hunting yields of 59 households in five neighboring indigenous villages in western Panama. These households captured 2,580 kg of game over 8 months, with 47% of the harvest coming from agricultural areas. The quantity of game captured in anthropogenic habitats is influenced by the hunting strategies employed. Only 25% of game captured during hunting trips was captured in agricultural areas, as opposed to 93% while “awaiting” and 65% using traps. Reliance on different strategies is in turn dependent on age, gender, and access to firearms. I argue that garden hunting is not a response to game depletion, but rather a productive activity that is complementary to broader cultural and economic patterns, and that simultaneously protects crops from animal predation. The creation of heterogeneous habitat mosaics through shifting cultivation has played a key role in the relationship between people and wildlife in the humid neotropics, leading to adjustments in both animal foraging patterns and indigenous hunting practices.

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Correspondence to Derek A. Smith.

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Smith, D.A. Garden Game: Shifting Cultivation, Indigenous Hunting and Wildlife Ecology in Western Panama. Hum Ecol 33, 505–537 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-005-5157-Y

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