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The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations

A. Benítez-López, R. Alkemade, A. M. Schipper, D. J. Ingram, P. A. Verweij, J. A. J. Eikelboom, M. A. J. Huijbregts



Quantifying hunting-induced defaunation. As the human population grows and increasingly encroaches on remaining wildlife habitat, hunting threatens many species. Benítez-López et al. conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of hunting trends and impacts across the tropics (see the Perspective by Brashares and Gaynor). Bird and mammal populations were considerably lower in areas where hunting occurred. Although commercial hunting and proximity to roads and urban centers were the most damaging factors, all hunting had worrying impacts, even in protected areas. Protection and alternative approaches for sustainable subsistence hunting must be implemented soon if we are to prevent further, rapid defaunation.

Abstract. Hunting is a major driver of biodiversity loss, but a systematic large-scale estimate of hunting-induced defaunation is lacking. We synthesized 176 studies to quantify hunting-induced declines of mammal and bird populations across the tropics. Bird and mammal abundances declined by 58% (25 to 76%) and by 83% (72 to 90%) in hunted compared with unhunted areas. Bird and mammal populations were depleted within 7 and 40 kilometers from hunters’ access points (roads and settlements). Additionally, hunting pressure was higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat could be traded. Mammal population densities were lower outside protected areas, particularly because of commercial hunting. Strategies to sustainably manage wild meat hunting in both protected and unprotected tropical ecosystems are urgently needed to avoid further defaunation.


Science, Vol. 356, No. 6334. (14 April 2017), pp. 180-183, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaj1891 
Key: INRMM:14343847

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