Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations governing prey choice by hunters in a post-war African forest-savannah macromosaic

Franciany Braga-Pereira, Carlos A. Peres, Rômulo Romeu Da Nóbrega Alves, Carmén Van-Dúnem Santos, Emmanuel Serrano (Editor)

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Abstract

Overhunting typically increases during and after armed conflicts, and may lead to regionalscale defaunation. The mitigation of hunting impacts is complex because, among other reasons, several intrinsic and extrinsic motivations underpin the elevated deployment of hunting practices. Here we present the first study focusing on these motivations in a post-war zone. Following persistently heavy hunting pressure during the 27-year Angolan civil war, the offtake of small to medium-bodied species has increased recently as a result of large mammal depletion. However, prey choice associated with different motivations varied in terms of species trophic level and body size. While most residents hunted large-bodied species to maximize revenues from wildlife trade, many low-trophic level smaller species were harvested to meet local subsistence demands because they were more palatable and could be captured using artisanal traps near hunters' households. Mainly low-trophic level species were killed in retaliation for crop-raiding or livestock depredation. Considering all game species sampled in this study, 96% were captured to attend two or more motivations. In addition, hunting associated with different motivations was partitioned in terms of age and gender, with prey acquisition for the wildlife trade primarily carried out by adult men, while hunting to meet local subsistence needs and inhibit human-wildlife conflicts were carried out by adult men and women, children and even the elderly. In natural savannah areas lacking fish as a source of protein, a higher number of species was selected to supply both the meat trade and subsistence, while more species in forest areas were targeted for trade in animal body parts and conflict retaliation. Finally, local commerce in bushmeat and other body parts accrued higher domestic revenues compared to any alternative sources of direct and indirect income. However, these financial benefits were at best modest, largely unsustainable in terms of prey population collapses, and generated high long-term costs for the local to regional scale economy and native biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261198
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021

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