Evaluating the use of local ecological knowledge to monitor hunted tropical forest wildlife over large spatial scales
Data on the distribution and abundance of hunted wildlife are scarce in many tropical forest regions. Conventional wildlife surveys require a large amount of effort, holding back the replication of studies across time or landscapes. This research looked at integrating local ecological knowledge into monitoring and managment. The research used the local ecological knowledge of rural hunters to monitor the depletion of hunted forest wildlife in the Brazilian Amazon. Rapid interview surveys around 161 Amazonian communities were the basis for estimates of the landscape-scale depletion of ten large-bodied vertebrate species. The research then estimated regional-scale depletion, by looking at species-specific drivers of depletion and using secondary data on human population density, land form and physical accessibility.
The findings were that bushmeat consumption can have far-reaching impacts on game populations, with severe depletion reaching over 100km from urban centres. White-lipped peccary, for example, was estimated to be absent from 17% of its putative range in Amazonas State, even though 98% of the state is still forested. The authors conclude that using local ecological knowledge still needs further validation in the field, but has strong potential for community-based monitoring, and for large-scale monitoring of threatened species.