• Baird's tapir;
  • Honduras;
  • indigenous hunting;
  • Miskitu;
  • Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve


The Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) is a popular game species throughout Central America, particularly among indigenous populations, and is currently endangered. Research on Miskitu hunting was conducted over 4 months in a remote region in northeastern Honduras that overlaps with the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve. The hunting zone was mapped together with hunters and interviews were conducted with elders and other community members about tapir hunting. Results show that tapir harvesting is targeted toward specific habitats at specific times of year. Harvest rates for one year suggest that tapir hunting in the area exceeds estimates of maximum sustainable production. Nevertheless, field surveys reveal the presence of tapir within 1 km of the community, and its harvest tends to be nearby, in both forested and agricultural landscapes, suggesting that the animal has not been depleted in the area. It appears that the existence of forest areas adjacent to the hunting zone that do not experience hunting, together with the anthropogenic habitats created through shifting cultivation, are factors that help explain the presence of tapirs in the area. The article concludes with a discussion regarding the potential positive role of indigenous hunters in tapir conservation throughout its distribution range.