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Keywords:

  • Ecuador;
  • wild meat market;
  • oil industry;
  • roads;
  • Yasuní National Park;
  • indigenous people;
  • wildlife trade

Abstract

Starting in 1994, a wholesale wild meat market developed in north-eastern Ecuador, involving Waorani and Kichwa people in the area of influence of a road built to facilitate oil extraction within Yasuní National Park. Between 2005 and 2007, we recorded the trade of 11 717 kg of wild meat in this market, with pacas Cuniculus paca, white-lipped peccaries Tayassu pecari, collared peccaries Pecari tajacu and woolly monkeys Lagothrix poeppiggi accounting for 80% of the total biomass. Almost half of the wild meat brought to the market was transported by dealers for resale at restaurants in Tena, a medium-sized town 234 km west of the market. Prices of wild meat were 1.3–2 times higher than the price of meat of domestic animals, suggesting that it is a different commodity and not a supplementary protein source in the urban areas where it is consumed. The actual price of transportation between the local communities and the market was a significant predictor of the amount of meat sold in Pompeya. Based on this relationship the Waorani hunters sold exceptionally larger amounts of wild meat than would be expected if they would not have the transportation subsidies provided by the oil companies. Although the scale of this wild meat wholesale market is still relatively small, its dynamic reflects the complex interactions that emerge as the overriding influence of oil companies or other private industries modify the culture and subsistence patterns of marginalized indigenous groups, increasing their potential impacts on wildlife and natural ecosystems.