A preliminary evaluation of the sustainability of cassowary (Aves: Casuariidae) capture and trade in Papua New Guinea

Authors

  • Arlyne Johnson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Wildlife Conservation Society, 2100 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460, USA
      All correspondence to: Arlyne Johnson, Wildlife Conservation Society, Box 6712, Vientiane, Lao PDR, SE Asia. Tel: +856 21 215400; Fax: +856 21 215400; E-mail: ajohnson@wcs.org.
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  • Robert Bino,

    1. Research and Conservation Foundation of Papua New Guinea, Box 1264, Goroka, EHP, Papua New Guinea
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  • Paul Igag

    1. Wildlife Conservation Society – PNG Program, Box 277, Goroka, EHP, Papua New Guinea
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All correspondence to: Arlyne Johnson, Wildlife Conservation Society, Box 6712, Vientiane, Lao PDR, SE Asia. Tel: +856 21 215400; Fax: +856 21 215400; E-mail: ajohnson@wcs.org.

Abstract

Wildlife capture and trade for traditional use in Papua New Guinea has led to the extirpation of cassowary in some areas and increasing pressure for trade from areas where they remain. We tested a village-based monitoring programme to evaluate sustainability of wildlife capture and trade by households in the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area. We monitored the type and number of wildlife species captured and traded. For the most heavily traded species, dwarf cassowary, we compared estimated annual offtake of live cassowary to maximum sustainable offtake and also compared change in hunter effort over time. We found that live offtake rates of 0.06–0.07/km2 were unsustainable in one village catchment and on the threshold of unsustainable use in another. Extirpation of cassowary will probably occur in the management area unless the location or quantity of the harvest can be restricted and the husbandry of captive birds improved. Results indicate that village monitoring of cassowary offtake is feasible when done in collaboration with outside, trained observers. Such monitoring should be encouraged as a means for landowners and management agencies to collectively evaluate the sustainability of the cassowary harvest in Papua New Guinea. This study provides an example of how scientists working with local communities in tropical forests can contribute to systematic monitoring and evaluation of wildlife offtake for sustainable use.

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