bushmeat, Guyana, Ateles, Crax, Tapirus, indigenous people, biodemographic models, hunting


Life Sciences


While bushmeat hunting is critical to the livelihoods of millions of people throughout the tropical world, it is also a major threat to wildlife conservation. Assessing the sustainability of hunting has been a major goal in conservation biology but developing methods that accurately predict patterns of prey depletion has proven notoriously problematic. In this study, we sought to assess the sustainability of the hunting of indigenous Waiwai in Guyana by comparing results from the most commonly used static sustainability index, the production model, with results from spatially explicit biodemographic models for three indicator species; tapirs Tapirus terrestris, spider monkeys Ateles paniscus, and curassows Crax alector. Our goals were to (1) assess how conclusions about sustainability differ between the two methods and (2) to determine the suitability of biodemographic modeling for nonprimate taxa. We used hunter-self monitoring data to calculate annual harvest and to estimate parameters for biodemographic models. The production model indicated that all three species were being overharvested, with T. terrestris harvested at six times the sustainable rate. In contrast, biodemographic models indicated that each species would persist in the Waiwai catchment area in 20 years (although A. paniscus would be close to extirpation), even if the Waiwai population increased by 64% and shifted to all shotgun hunting. Predicted densities for A. paniscus and C. alector were statistically indistinguishable from empirically derived encounter rates and those for T. terrestris were consistent with the locations of Waiwai kills, demonstrating the robustness of the model. While the weaknesses of static sustainability indices are well documented, they continue to be used and conclusions based on their results are still cited and influential in determining conservation policy. Our study demonstrates that biodemographic models perform far better than static indices and that the biodemographic approach is robust for a range of different prey species.

Original Citation

Shaffer, C. A.,Yukuma, C., Marawanaru, E., & Suse, P. (2017). Assessing the sustainability of Waiwai subsistence hunting in Guyana by comparison of static indices and spatially explicit, biodemographic models. Animal Conservation.

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