The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations

date: 2017-04-21

BenitezLopez_etal_2017

Radboud University, PBL, Wageningen University and Research, University of Sussex and Utrecht University

Summary

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.

An international team of ecologists and environmental scientists found that mammal and bird populations within 40 and 7 km of hunters’ access points, such as roads and settlements. Additionally, the team found that commercial hunting had a higher impact than subsistence hunting, and that hunting pressure was higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat could be traded. PBL co-operated in this study to further underpin the Global Biodiversity Model (GLOBIO), which is used to inform international policy makers on biodiversity. The researchers synthesised 176 studies to quantify hunting-induced declines of mammal and bird populations across the tropics of Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The study was led by Ana Benítez-López, who works at the department of Environmental Science at Radboud University in Nijmegen. She cooperated with researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the universities of Wageningen and Utrecht in the Netherlands and a colleague from the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex.

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