4. Pesquisa socioeconômica aplicada ao manejo – Temas
Mary Catherine Silva Menton
THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CULTURAL IMPORTANCE, RELATIVE ABUNDANCE, AND HUNTING RATES IN INCRA SETTLEMENTS, PARA, BRAZIL
Hunting in rural Amazonia has placed tremendous pressure on game animal populations. A better understanding of the cultural factors influencing hunting rates will be necessary to improve sustainable management of hunting regimes. In four settlement communities in the Santarem, Para region, a three-prong research project was carried out which evaluated 1) game animal population abundance; 2) community perceptions of the relative importance of game animal taxa; 3) household records of hunting rates. Animal abundance was evaluated using three independent line transects established in each community with a total of 150km walked per community. Importance was assessed using participatory rural appraisal and the pebble distribution method – PDM. Participant households (10 per community) kept hunting diaries over the course of a year and these records were used to estimate the average household hunt in terms of number of animals (total = 9.5 animals) and kilograms of game meat (total = 77 kg) hunted per year. For all of the communities, deer (Mazama sp.), paca (Agouti paca), armadillos (Dasypus sp.), cutia (Dasyprocta agouti), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) and tortoise (Geochelone sp.) were amongst the top ten most important taxa as determined using PDM. Key factors cited as influencing importance values included animal size (quantity of meat), taste, and ease of catch. Ease of catch was influenced by both abundance and the ability of the animals to escape from hunters. The above mentioned taxa continued to be in the top ten taxa when classified by their relative dominance in terms of diary records of the number of animals caught and the number of kilograms of meat consumed but the order of importance changed. Transect surveys of relative abundance, however, did not follow the same patterns. For example, whilst the mammal community was dominated by primates and the Psittacinaea family was the most common of the game birds, they were the least hunted of the study taxa. Statistical analyses found that whilst PDM-based importance values were significantly correlated with both the number of animals hunted and the kilograms of meat caught, relative abundance of animal populations showed a negative correlation with perceived importance such that less abundant taxon like peccaries and deer were deemed more important than smaller mammals and birds that were more abundant. In conclusion, whilst hunting rates are influenced by relative abundance of animal populations, other factors which affect peoples concepts of importance (size, taste, esteem) influence hunters decisions as to which game to seek out. So much so that even in communities where deer were virtually absent from population surveys, they were voted as being amongst the top ten most important taxa.