The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Forest Meat Consumption in Rural Northeastern Madagascar: Its Extent, Incentives, and Impact on Local Lemur and Human Populations


Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Wildlife resource use has the potential to threaten Madagascar’s ecological integrity and the health of the local people who rely on it for sustenance. Conservationists acknowledge the importance of understanding human behavior in designing effective conservation initiatives, but rarely combine quantitative analyses of lemur ecology and human behavior. This study investigates mammal hunting and consumption in rural northeastern Madagascar within their broader cultural and ecological contexts. Over a period of 12 months, I surveyed lemurs and analyzed habitats at two sites, one near a village and another distant from human habitation. I directly observed trapping behavior through 12 months of trapper shadowing and interviewed 100% of households in the village. Whereas 97% of households consumed some forest meat, marked household and seasonal variation was recorded. Forest animals were caught largely for individual consumption, and were not intended for sale or economic gain. Increased involvement in ecotourism and increased ecological knowledge did not reduce wild meat consumption; other variables, including economic stability, food security, familial relations, and involvement in human-wildlife conflicts strongly affected the likelihood of partaking in snare trapping. This study investigates the sustainability of lemur hunting practices, the importance of forest meats in the local diet, their impact on household health and well-being, and the effectiveness of alternative conservation strategies.

This research was funded in part by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund, the Conservation International Primate Action Fund, the Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife Grant, and the International Primatological Society Conservation Grant.

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