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Humans and other animals face decisions on which food items to harvest, when to quit searching and when to move on to the next patch. This chapter starts by describing optimal foraging theory (OFT), which has been used to understand and to predict foraging behaviour in animals as well as humans. We follow this by describing how cultural issues, such as taboos and religious beliefs, can affect optimal foraging in humans. We describe how OFT has been applied to human foraging and why it has been criticized by some researchers. We show that a number of alternatives to OFT models applied to humans have been suggested. Because there are different prey species and food is not distributed uniformly, prey and foraging space must be selected by human foragers. We continue by defining group hunting and sexual division in hunting roles as crucial elements in human foraging strategies. We end the chapter by discussing conservation and sustainability and linking this to the ecologically noble savage concept introduced in the previous chapter.
In this first chapter we describe the importance of hunting and meat eating to humans and how this has influenced the evolution of the species. This is followed by a brief review of how prevailing ecological conditions influence human’s dependence on plants or animals to survive at different latitudes. We then document which animal species and groups are currently hunted and used for food, discuss the issue of wild meat markets particularly in Africa and set out our current knowledge of rates of wild meat consumption in different parts of the world. The chapter ends with an explanation of why this book has been conceived and how we can use accumulated knowledge on this subject to reduce wild meat exploitation to sustainable levels, by outlining the main pathways that enable us to understand human predatory behaviour and ways of balancing human and wildlife needs in the future.
Ensuring the sustainable management of wild meat use is challenging and complex, requiring a balance between sustainable development, food security and conservation. Available information and examples from more than four decades of research suggests that with the right enabling environment, political will and suitable legislation and governance, well-designed and participatory multi-sectoral wild meat supply is possible. Demand needs to be reduced to sustainable levels, at least for several species in some environments. In this chapter we discuss ways in which we can ‘close the gap’ between knowledge and action and ensure that wild meat use is balanced. We provide a comprehensive overview of what factors can guarantee sustainable wild meat use, taking into account the topics dealt with in the book overall. We end by suggesting how to improve wild meat governance and management worldwide so as to secure wildlife protection and food security in the long term.
Many diseases that affect humans are directly or indirectly connected to wild and domestic meat and to wildlife in general. All have different impacts ranging from mild to lethal. In this chapter we concentrate on those emerging zoonotic diseases which are directly linked to wild meat and which have the most serious impact on humans (mainly viral diseases). The chapter first reviews re-emerging zoonotic diseases, such as plague and yellow fever, and then describes zoonotic emerging diseases, including Ebola, SARS and the pandemic COVID-19. Our intention here is to catalogue and explain in some detail the most important zoonotic diseases. We continue by highlighting the risk factors likely to cause the emergence of such diseases, including wild meat hunting and trade and environmental changes. We end by proposing solutions.
Sustainability is widely used in science and politics and has myriad definitions. Some explanations emphasize the ecological, socio-political or economic aspects of sustainability. In this chapter we introduce the different approaches and metrics that have been used or proposed to assess wild meat sustainability. We first describe the concept of maximum sustainable yield and how its use has changed from being a target to a point of reference in wildlife exploitation. We describe a number of sustainability indices used such as those which quantify population trends over time, full demographic models, surplus production models and early warning systems. For each index, we highlight their pros and cons and give examples of their application. We end by concentrating on ecosystem-based management principles and resilience analyses and advocate their use. We indicate the importance of applying such models to practice.
The exploitation of wild animals for their meat not only continues throughout the tropics and subtropics but is in most areas increasing. This is an activity of crucial importance that continues to buttress the food security and livelihoods of many millions of people. In this chapter we give an overview of the impact of hunting on prey populations. We start by presenting what estimates are available of wild meat extraction levels at a regional scale, particularly for Africa and South America. A summary of the main drivers of wildlife hunted for their meat is presented. We follow this with a discussion of spatial patterns of wild meat extraction at a more regional scale and show how exploitation patterns are linked to human population density and accessibility. We then focus on the evidence of overexploitation in reducing prey populations and species assemblages and what drives wild meat exploitation. We end by discussing the knock-on effects of defaunation on wider ecosystem processes and functions.
In this chapter we first define the tropics and subtropics, the environmental backdrop of our book. We then highlight the main biomes found in these areas and present an overview of the availability of huntable animals found in these habitats. Because mammals are the most important hunted group, most of our analyses refer to them. We focus our descriptions of wildlife communities and hunting primarily on African and South American habitats since most publications to date focus on these two continents. We proceed by summarizing the anthropogenic pressures acting on biodiversity worldwide. Data on wild meat in people’s diets in the tropics and subtropics are then described, and we underline how pressures from growing populations in these regions can jeopardize the future of wildlife and ecosystems, and impact the food security of many millions of humans. We end the chapter by introducing the consequences of overhunting on wild animals, which cause defaunation.
We start the chapter by describing the different modes of hunting and clarify that in this book we primarily focus on subsistence hunting and commercial hunting; the latter provides wild meat for local rural and urban markets. The main objective of subsistence hunting is to provide food for the hunters and their families. This activity plays a vital role in the sustenance and even survival of many peoples in the tropics and subtropical regions of the world. We start the chapter by describing the hunting technology used by humans throughout time and how this has impacted human evolution. We then concentrate on describing modern hunting techniques used from an extensive analysis of published studies of hunter-gatherers and rural communities in the tropics and subtropics. Hunters are described, including hunting by children and the cultural aspects involved in hunting. We end the chapter by entering into the debate of whether rural or Indigenous Peoples manage their resources sustainably as a prelude to the next chapter.
The hunting of wild animals for their meat has been a crucial activity in the evolution of humans. It continues to be an essential source of food and a generator of income for millions of Indigenous and rural communities worldwide. Conservationists rightly fear that excessive hunting of many animal species will cause their demise, as has already happened throughout the Anthropocene. Many species of large mammals and birds have been decimated or annihilated due to overhunting by humans. If such pressures continue, many other species will meet the same fate. Equally, if the use of wildlife resources is to continue by those who depend on it, sustainable practices must be implemented. These communities need to remain or become custodians of the wildlife resources within their lands, for their own well-being as well as for biodiversity in general. This title is also available via Open Access on Cambridge Core.