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Predicting hunter behavior of indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon: insights from a household production model

Enrique de la Montaña, Departamento Central de Investigación, Universidad Laica "Eloy Alfaro" de Manabí
Rocío del Pilar Moreno-Sánchez, Conservation Strategy Fund
Jorge H Maldonado, CEDE - Department of Economics, Universidad de los Andes
Daniel M Griffith, Departamento Central de Investigación, Universidad Laica "Eloy Alfaro" de Manabí


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Many indigenous communities living in the Amazon rely on hunting and fishing to meet the majority of their protein needs. Despite the importance of these practices, few studies from the region have analyzed the socioeconomic drivers of hunting and fishing at the household level. We propose a household production model to assess the effect of key economic parameters on hunting and fishing in small indigenous communities located in the Ecuadorian Amazon, whose principal source of protein is derived from hunting and fishing. The model was validated using empirical data from two communities that reflect different levels of market integration and forest conservation. Demand and supply functions were generated from household data gathered over 19 months. Elasticities were derived to determine the sensitivity of the decision to engage in hunting to exogenous parameters such as off-farm wages, hunting costs, bushmeat price, penalties for the illegal sale of bushmeat, and biological characteristics of the game species. After calibrating the model, we simulated changes in the key economic parameters. The parameter that most directly affected hunting activity in both communities was off-farm wages. Simulating a 10% wage increase resulted in a 16–20% reduction in harvested biomass, while a 50% increase diminished harvested biomass by > 50%. Model simulations revealed that bushmeat price and penalties for illegal trade also had important effects on hunter behavior in terms of amount of bushmeat sold, but not in terms of total harvest. As a tool for understanding hunters’ economic decision-making, the model provides a basis for developing strategies that promote sustainable hunting and wildlife conservation while protecting indigenous livelihoods.

Key words

bushmeat; economic model; Ecuador; fishing; food security; hunting

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087