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The pleasure of pursuit: recreational hunters in rural Southwest China exhibit low exit rates in response to declining catch

Charlotte H Chang, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University; Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Michele L Barnes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University; Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Margaret Frye, Department of Sociology, Princeton University
Mingxia Zhang, Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Rui-Chang Quan, Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Leah M.G. Reisman, Department of Sociology, Princeton University
Simon A Levin, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
David S Wilcove, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University; Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09072-220143

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Abstract

Hunting is one of the greatest threats to tropical vertebrates. Examining why people hunt is crucial to identifying policy levers to prevent excessive hunting. Overhunting is particularly relevant in Southeast Asia, where a high proportion of mammals and birds are globally threatened. We interviewed hunters in Southwest China to examine their social behavior, motivations, and responses to changes in wildlife abundance. Respondents viewed hunting as a form of recreation, not as an economic livelihood, and reported that they would not stop hunting in response to marked declines in expected catch. Even in scenarios where the expected catch was limited to minimal quantities of small, low-price songbirds, up to 36.7% of respondents said they would still continue to hunt. Recreational hunting may be a prominent driver for continued hunting in increasingly defaunated landscapes; this motivation for hunting and its implications for the ecological consequences of hunting have been understudied relative to subsistence and profit hunting. The combination of a preference for larger over smaller game, reluctance to quit hunting, and weak enforcement of laws may lead to hunting-down-the-web outcomes in Southwest China.

Key words

harvesting; hunting; interviews; management; natural resource governance

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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