WSB: Which animals are hunted in the eastern Amazon?

By Dana Kobilinsky

The white-lipped peccary is one of the endangered species hunted in the eastern Amazon. Researchers hope their study, the first of its kind, provides some insight into hunting management in Brazil. ©Bernard DUPONT

While hunting — both legal and illegal — is prevalent in Brazil’s eastern Amazon, researchers had never looked at which species people are hunting the most until recently.

“It’s necessary to know about the effect in the system of hunting and wildlife,” said Geison Mesquita, a PhD student at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, researcher at the Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat, and lead author of a new study examining hunting in the region. “For conservation, it’s important, too, because if we don’t know what’s hunted, we can’t help the species.”

To conduct his study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, Mesquita had to gain the trust of locals to share what species they were hunting, why and how. Mesquita befriended a local man who knew hunters in the area, opening the door for the research team to interview them regarding their activities. Since their research was for science, “not like a policeman,” Mesquita said, the hunters were willing to talk. Hunting there is legal for indigenous communities and in some cases in rural communities where hunters need to feed their families, he said, but not for others.

From the interviews, the team identified the species; frequency of capture; capture techniques, such as traps, illegal guns or dogs; yield of hunt and reasons for hunting.

Overall, they found 18 species were hunted, including two endangered species that are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) and the white‐lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari). Other hunted species included the common paca (Cuniculus paca), capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), southern naked‐tailed armadillo (Cabassous unicinctus), nine‐banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) and six‐banded armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus).

While feline species weren’t hunted, Mesquita suggested that they also might be affected by hunting if it diminishes their prey.

Mesquita said he hopes the study can provide managers with important baseline information regarding hunting. “There are so many species that are affected,” he said.

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

Read more of Dana's articles here.


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