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Social Correlates of and Reasons for Primate Meat Consumption in Central Amazonia


Traditionally, humans have consumed nonhuman primates in many places, including throughout the Amazon region. However, primate consumption rates are changing with rising urbanization and market access. We characterize primate consumption in central Amazonia using 192 qualitative interviews with inhabitants in three rural villages and in the city of Tefé. We used a generalized linear model to investigate how individual consumer characteristics, such as age and gender, and livelihoods affected primate consumption. We also used principal coordinate analysis (PCoA), and word clouds and network text analyses, to describe reasons people gave for eating or avoiding primates. Our results show that men were more likely to say that they eat primates than women, and that the probability that a person said that they eat primates correlated positively with the percentage of their life lived in rural areas. People gave sentiment and ethical reasons not to eat primates. Custom influenced whether people said they eat primates both positively and negatively, while taste positively influenced whether people said they eat primates. A preference for other wild meats in rural areas, and for domestic meats in cities negatively influenced whether people said they eat primates. People also cited the perceptions that primates have a human-like appearance and that primate meat is unhealthy as reasons not to eat primates. People in urban areas also cited conservation attitudes as reasons for not eating primates. Our findings provide an understanding of factors influencing primate consumption in our study area and will be useful for designing tailored conservation initiatives by reducing hunting pressure on primates in rural settings and increasing the effectiveness of outreach campaigns in urban centers.

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The collaboration of all interviewees was essential for the production of this study. The authors also thank M. C. Gaona for the comments on the manuscript, C. L. B. Franco for the map, and J. B. O. Freitas for the communication advisory. We are grateful to one anonymous reviewer and to Prof. Joanna M. Setchell for their comments on the original manuscript. L. P. Lemos thanks the International Primatological Society through its Pre-Congress Training Program and the Brazilian Primatological Society through its Brazilian Primates’ Course. This work was supported by the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (Grant Nos. 301059/2020-9, 300303/2020-3, 302143/2020-3, 201475/2017-0; 300999/2020-8, 146954/2019-0, 146823/2019-2), Ministério de Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (MCTIC), and the Grant Agreement for Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá (Grant No. 5344) of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. A. de Souza Jesus was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Pará (FAPESPA) (Grant No. 007/2017-FAPESPA/UFRA). V. Costa da Silva was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Amazonas (FAPEAM) (Grant No. 062.01287/2017). T. Q. Morcatty was supported by the Funds for Women Graduates from the British Federation of Women Graduates, the WCS Graduate Scholarship Program, a program of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship, and by the Wildlife Conservation Network Scholarship Program through the Sidney Byers Scholarship award.

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Authors and Affiliations



LPL, LFL, CFAV, ASJ, VCS, JV, and HREB designed the study. LPL, LFL, CFAV, ASJ, VCS, MLOR, and AMM collected the data. LPL, LFL, TQM, CFAV, and HREB conducted data analysis. LPL, LFL, TQM, JEF, and HREB led the manuscript writing. All authors contributed to results interpretation and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the text.

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Correspondence to Lísley Pereira Lemos.

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Handling Editor: Joanna Setchell.

Supplementary Information

Questionnaires used in interviews on primate consumption (ESM Appendix S1), wildlife hunting informative leaflet given to urban people after the interviews (ESM Appendix S2), and the alternative generalized linear models (ESM Appendix S3) are available online. The authors are solely responsible for the content and functionality of these materials. Queries (other than absence of the material) should be directed to the corresponding author.


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Lemos, L.P., Loureiro, L.F., Morcatty, T.Q. et al. Social Correlates of and Reasons for Primate Meat Consumption in Central Amazonia. Int J Primatol 42, 499–521 (2021).

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  • Hunting
  • Neotropical primates
  • Preference
  • Taboos
  • Wild meat
  • Wildlife use