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Conserv Biol. 2010 Jun;24(3):861-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01505.x. Epub 2010 Apr 23.

Assessing sustainability at multiple scales in a rotational bushmeat hunting system.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, UK.


Results of many studies show unsustainable levels of bushmeat hunting across West/Central Africa. Nevertheless, these results are usually derived from snapshot sustainability indices in which critical parameters are often taken from the literature. Simple, more informative tools for assessing sustainability are needed. We evaluated the impact of bushmeat hunting across a range of temporal, spatial, and taxonomic scales in a comparison of different measures of sustainability. Over 15 months in 2002-2004 in and around a village close to Equatorial Guinea's Monte Alén National Park, we collected data via a village offtake survey, hunter-camp bushmeat-consumption diaries, hunter interviews, and following hunters during hunts. We compared 2003 data with a previous offtake survey (1998-1999) and interview reports back to 1990. In the past 14 years, average distance from the village at which hunters operated remained constant, with hunters switching back and forth between long-established camps, although trapping effort increased. In the past 5 years, overall offtake and number of active hunters did not change substantially, although catch per unit effort (CPUE) decreased slightly. Although the proportion of the two most commonly trapped species (Cephalophus monticola and Atherurus africanus) and gun-hunted primates increased in the offtake, species presumably less robust to trapping decreased slightly. Apparent sustainability in economic terms may be masking gradual local extirpation of more vulnerable species before and during this study. Our results suggest that changes in prey profiles and CPUE may be the most accurate indicators of actual sustainability; these indices can be monitored with simple village-based offtake surveys and hunter interviews to improve community management of bushmeat hunting.

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