THE HARVEST OF RAIN–FOREST BIRDS BY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN PANAMA*

Authors


  • *

    I would like to thank the residents of the communities of Caloveborita, Río Pedregoso, Río Palmar, Alto Limón, and Quebrada Larga for supporting the research, and in particular all of the people who participated in interviews, mapping workshops, and administering questionnaires. I am also very grateful for the dedicated efforts of the local investigators who assisted with the data collection. The National Science Foundation (Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, NSF 19540/990818), the Chicago Zoological Society (Conservation and Research Grant), the Tinker Foundation (Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant), and the Pierre Stousse Memorial Fund, University of Kansas, provided financial support for the field research.

abstract.

In this article I attempt to shed light on the relationships between indigenous communities and bird populations through research on hunting in five neighboring villages in western Panama. Over eight months, 59 households captured 1,584 birds using rifles, sling-shots, traps, and other methods, resulting in a total yield of 252 kilograms. Although hunters captured more than 125 avian species, just four species account for more than half of the total harvest. The most important game bird is the great curassow (Crax rubra), followed by the great tinamou (Tinamus major) and crested guan (Penelope purpurascens). The type and quantity of avifauna captured varies significantly according to habitat and hunting strategy. The spatial distribution of bird kill sites is highly concentrated, with 62 percent of the harvest by weight captured within just 1 kilometer of the participating households. Even the more vulnerable species are encountered close to home, suggesting that overhunting has not occurred.

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