Hunting and hunters of the Amazonian manatee in a Brazilian protected area
The Amazonian manatee has been hunted since antiquity and is part of local culture and tradition. Although protected by law, manatees continue to be hunted for food and trade. In most regions where the species occurs there are no reliable data on current hunting pressure. In addition, difficulty in determining its abundance prevents the definition of the species’ conservation status. Through an interdisciplinary research approach bringing together quantitative and qualitative data in the context of a trusting relationship with our local community partners, we assess current hunter profiles and associated hunting data. Hunting manatees in this region is linked to strong family traditions. The belief that ‘manatees are not for everyone’ as well as the considerable value given to their meat, results in hunters being recognized and admired. The manatees of Amanã are vulnerable to hunting year-round, throughout their route of in-reserve seasonal migration, and probably throughout other migration routes in the region. We conclude that if conservation is to be effective, the professionals, policies, and practices involved must consider local traditions related to manatee consumption. Likewise, the difficulty for local communities to fully grasp the threat of extinction to the species poses a significant challenge to conservation efforts. The information on manatee hunting in the Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve generated by this work is unprecedented for the species and has served as the basis for monitoring and establishing conservation measures appropriate to the local reality.
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