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Chapter 6 - Wildlife

Wildlife exploitation: Goods
Wildlife exploitation: Services
Wildlife exploitation: Management
Conflicts and compatibility between wildlife conservation and use and other activities
Areas of compatibility between the wildlife sector and other sectors

The fauna of the Peruvian Central Selva is representative, in qualitative terms, of the fauna in other American humid tropical forests. But the numbers and varities of species here are peculiar to the Selva alone because of the mountainous and man-made ecosystems found here.

The vast majority of wildlife in the region consists of invertebrates, including perhaps as many as two million insect species and a much smaller number of vertebrates (some 250 species of mammals, 1,200 species of birds, and 300 species of reptiles and batrachians). As many as 85 percent of the birds and 82 percent of the neotropical mammals may be endemic to this region alone.

Another characteristic of the fauna in the American humid tropics is its great diversity, with impressive numbers of species occurring in small areas. This diversity is generally accompanied by a reduced number of individuals of each species found in a given region.

Overall, mammals here are small in comparison with those found in the Asiatic and African humid tropics. The heaviest animal is the tapir which hardly reaches 300 kg in weight. Peccaries weigh 20-30 kg, while deer weigh 16-21 kg. Similarly, terrestrial vertebrate biomass is low, averaging 10-30 kg per hectare. The remainder of the animal biomass is made up of invertebrates such as acarids, soil collenbola, ants, and termites, and can be less than 200 kg/ha (Fittkau and Klinge, 1973).

Wildlife exploitation: Goods

Food for Human Consumption

Meat is one of the principal goods provided by wildlife in the Central Selva as well as in other localities in the American humid tropics. Studies carried out in Peru and Brazil have demonstrated that hunting provides rural inhabitants with from 10-465 grams per capita of fresh meat daily (Berlin and Berlin, 1978; Denevan, 1971; Smith, 1976; Pierret and Dourojeanni, 1967; Rios, et al, 1973). Some of the highest and lowest numbers refer to the Central Selva: only 10 grams per capita are consumed daily by the Campa natives from the Gran Pajonal region (Denevan, 1971), and 465 grams daily by colonists from the Pachitea river area (Pierret and Dourojeanni, 1966). More recently, Gaviria (1980) recorded a daily consumption of 108 grams among the Campas in the Pichis river region. Taking into account the fact that fresh fish provides approximately half of the protein supplied by the same weight of fresh meat, it can be seen that hunting contributes 34-40 percent of the protein consumed in the Peruvian Amazonia (Table 6-1). This is slightly less than the protein contribution of fish and much more than that supplied by poultry, swine, and sheep.

Table 6-1


From Pucallpa to the Ucayali River

In Jenaro Herrera (Ucayali River)

Along the Pichis River





Wild Meat




Poultry Swine

22.1 12.0

25,7 10.2

9 12








Source: Pierret and Dourojeanni (1967), Rios, et al, (1973), Gaviria (1980).

Although approximately 100 species are consumed by natives, and 60 by colonists, only some 15 species are consumed frequently (Table 6-2). Of these, Cuniculus paca, Tayassu tajacu, Tayassu pecan, Geochelone denticulata, Dasyprocta variegata, and Mazama americana account for 70 percent of wild animal consumption. The contribution of small game is equal to or slightly greater than that of big game.

Preferred meat comes from the monkeys Ateles and Lagothrix, the agouties (Cuniculus and Dasyprocta) and some birds (Penelope and Mitre). Also appreciated is the meat from peccaries (Tayassu) and deer (Mazama). In contrast, the meat from tapir (Tapirus terrestris) and capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) are held in low esteem, although exceptions to this attitude are known: the capybara is very popular in Venezuela (Ojasti, 1971).

Terrestrial invertebrates can represent 3-7 percent of the animal protein consumed by natives and less of that consumed by colonists. Appreciated are coleoptera larvae found in the palms Rhynchophorus and Rhinostomas and caterpillars of several lepidoptera, as well as the queens of the ants Atta and Acromyrmex. Various terrestrial molluscs, such as those belonging to the genus Strophocheilus, are also eaten (Dourojeanni, 1965).

Table 6-2


Ucayali River

Pachitea River

Small Game

Cuniculus paca



Geochelone denticulata















Big Game

Tayassu tajacu



Tayassu pecan



Mazama americana



Tapirus terrestris



Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris



a. Monkeys (Ateles, Lagothrix, Saimiri).
b. Birds (Mitu, Crax, Penelope).
Sources: Pierret and Dourojeanni (1966,1967).

The most avidly-sought eggs in the American humid tropics belong to the river turtles Podocnemis expansa, P. unifilis, and P. sextuberculata (Mittermeier, 1978; Ojasti and Rutkis, 1965,1967; Padua, 1981), but crocodile, tortoise, and some bird eggs are also exploited.

Honey from the wild bees Melipona and Trigona is used by natives and colonists, both directly and mixed with spirits. Some knowledgeable rural people obtain oil from the river frogs Inia and Sotalia, as well as small quantities from animals hunted for their meat. Colonists in the mountains obtain oil from the young of the oilbird, Steatornis caripensis, taking them from their nests in caves.

Skins and Hides

The best known and most abundant hides come from peccaries (Tayassu tajacu and Tayassu pecan), deer (Mazama americana and M. gouazoubira), crocodiles (Melanosuchus niger and Caiman crocodylus) and capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). The greatest number of skins, and the most desired ones, come from the ocelot, Felis pardalis; otter, Lutra amazonica, kinkajou, Potos flavus; margay cat, Felis wiedii, jaguar, Panthera onca; and giant otter, Pteronura brasiliensis. From 1965 to 1976 475,000 skins and more than 5 million hides were legally exported from Peru (Peru, 1977) while contraband and customs underevaluations, along with poor grade specimens, could easily account for as many more (Dourojeanni, 1972).

Live Animals

A considerable number of live animals are captured and exported for decorative purposes and to serve as household pets. Most of these are birds belonging to family Psitacidae, parrots and their kin, but monkeys and other animals are also exported. In 1964 27,837 Psitacidae and 1,808 other birds left Iquitos for other parts of Peru, while 2,491 more were exported directly, as were 36,000 monkeys.

Primates are frequently used in scientific research, usually in biomedical studies in developed countries. Whitney (1976) points out, however, that of the 47,345 South American primates entering the United States in 1972, only 11,300 were destined for biomedical research, of which one half were Saimiri sciureus followed by Aotus trivirgatus and Saiguinus mystax. World demand for neotropical primates for this purpose could reach approximately 29,000 animals by the year 2000, most of which will be Saimiri, Saiguinus, Cebuella, Cebus, Calithrix, and Aotus. Other species are also used, including armadillos (Dasypus), oppossums (Didelphis), and peccaries (Tayassu). Many live captured animals are exported annually to zoos (an average of 150 species a year with different ones being exported each year) while circuses have more selective demands, particulaly for spectacled bears, Tremarctos ornatus, jaguars, and other spectacular animals. Present demand for live animals from the humid tropics for domestication purposes is limited, but could increase, notably for animals belonging to the genera Cuniculus, Dasyprocta, Tayassu, and Tapirus.

Interest in some vertebrates and invertebrates - especially insects - is growing because of the increasing importance of biological control of pests to agriculture and livestock development in the world's humid tropics.

Cottage Industry Products

Natives, colonists, local speculators, merchants, artisans, exporters and importers use diverse wildlife products, including feathers for fans, arrows, and headbands; beaks and cat teeth for necklaces and amulets; bones from many species for necklaces, arms, musical instruments and decorative objects: the feet and claws of felines and primates for amulets; tortoise and armadillo carapaces for musical instruments, and mounted bird and mammal specimens. Insects used include lepidoptera (Morpho and others), used in pictures, brightly-colored wings of scarab beetles, and specimens of the harlequin beetle Acrocinus longimanus and Laternaria beetles of the family Fulgoridae. One Laternaria beetle cost US$9 in 1964 in Tingo Maria.

Traditional Medicine and Magic

Serpents, frogs, and toads are considered to be of great value to local populations, especially among natives and old colonists, in traditional medicine and magic. Dolphins and procyonids (Procyon) among others are sought for the supposed aphrodisiac and magical qualities of some of their organs.

Medical Investigation

The armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus, known as the "carachupa," has been selected for medical research because of its low body temperature (32-34° C), and because a large number of these animals become sick with systemic leprosy while others are not affected by the disease. This is considered a model animal for studies of susceptibility and resistance. To obtain an idea of the animal's importance, it is estimated that a gram of infected armadillo tissue contains between 109 and 1,010 bacilli that can be isolated in a pure form. With such an enormous accessible bacterial population, preventive and curative vaccines have been produced and an antigen prepared that can help improve the condition of seriously ill patients and prevent those living with afflicted individuals from catching the disease.

Primates have become enormously significant in medical studies. Some monkeys, such as the pichico Saguinus fuscicollis, are widely distributed in Amazonia and are quite important in cancer research and arteriosclerosis investigations. The musmuqui, Aotus trivirgatus, is being utilized in human malaria studies because it is capable of becoming infected with Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum, and with P. malaria. Occasionally, epizootics of yellow fever can occur in Alouatta monkeys, causing high mortality; other monkeys, including Atetes, Saimiri, Cebus, Callicebus, Saguinus, and Aotus, are also susceptible. All these animals are important because they can be used for more complete investigations of parasites, host reactions, chemotherapy treatments, and immunization tests.

Important studies now being conducted with monkeys focus on human hepatitis A. Saguinus mystax is used as an experimental model for serological tests for application in diagnosis and in epidemiological studies that can be useful in controlling and preventing this disease. This monkey can also help produce standard human immune globulins for hepatitis A vaccines while titi monkeys have been used in developing vaccines for hepatitis B. Not surprisingly, so many monkeys have been harvested in recent times that legal measures prohibiting their exportation have become necessary.

While biomedical investigation with fauna is flourishing, more direct research is needed into jungle animals that serve as reservoirs of parasites, bacteria, and fungi. It is important to know, for example, if the perezozo (sloth), the Myrmecophaga tridactyla, (giant anteater), and the Tamandua tetradactyla (lesser anteater), play an important role in leishmaniasis. We also need to know whether the tigrillo or ocelote, Felis pardalis, as well as other felines in Amazonia, are definitive hosts in the toxoplasm cycle, which would explain the high incidence of jungle toxoplasmosis.

Venomous snakes are important to pharmacology and medicine. The Aguaruna-Huambisha Community has attempted to breed snakes for commercial venom extraction and the development of mono- or polyvalent sera. The Department of Venomous Animals of the National Health Institute is constructing, with international assistance, a breeding facility in Pucallpa. This facility, in the animal's natural environment, shows great promise in producing more potent venoms and more effective sera.

Because there is such a large variety of venoms from Peruvian snakes, it is necessary experimentally to determine their pharmacological effects. Fourteen Micrurus and more than 11 Bothrops species exist, in addition to the unique species of the genus Lachesis, L. muta, and the rattlesnake, Crotalus durissus terrificus, in Puno Department. More information also needs to be gathered about Peruvian scorpions, although preliminary research indicates that they do not cause serious health problems. Little is known about the chilopods or centipedes beyond a few clinical descriptions, as well as the bites of ants and wasps, and the urticant action of the hairs of some caterpillars.


Considerable collection of all types of animals occurs for scientific purposes, especially for taxonomic studies. As much of this activity is not carried out by scientists it can be profitable for its purveyors. Many collected animals, particularly insects, are sold to hobbyists, while the heads and skins of jaguars, pumas, spectacled bears and occasionally tapirs are sought as hunting trophies.

Wildlife exploitation: Services

Wildlife's role in natural cycles is of transcendental importance, particularly the role invertebrates play in recycling organic matter. The evolution of flora and fauna depends on selection pressure applied by the animals that feed on, compete with, and interact in other ways with them. Regulating population densities of plants is also a crucial role for animals, one essential for maintaining natural genetic diversity.

Many economically important plants cannot prosper in the absence of pollinating insects and birds that sometimes are quite species-specific. For example, the Brazil nut tree, Bertholletia excelsa, depends on wild bees for pollination, as do numerous domesticated fruit trees. Many other wild plant seeds must pass through animals' digestive tracts before germinating.

Such animals as otters, giant otters, and crocodiles keep fish populations stable by eating the old, the sick, and the weak; terrestrial predators fill the same role with their prey species. Large crocodiles and capybara populations that used to inhabit some water courses seem to have helped sustain some fish stocks with their excrement. Both aquatic and terrestrial insects are an important food source for fish.

Wildlife in the humid tropics is an important tourist attraction, of both conventional and scientific, and foreign and domestic interest. Although not as spectacular as African wildlife, the fauna of the American humid tropics is famous for its diversity.

The animals of the American humid tropics are less frequently hunted for sport than wildlife in other parts of the world, because of both the low number of potential trophies and also the difficulty of hunting where there is low visibility, where the animals have nocturnal habits, and where there are bothersome insects and high temperatures. Nevertheless, they do attract some local, national, and foreign hunters. Small game species include birds, primates, rodents, armadillos and others; while peccary, tapir, and deer are sought-after big game.

Religious and moral beliefs have given human beings a profound sense of responsibility for the survival of their species. But the species most in danger of extinction today are often those most economically valuable to man. Table 6-3 presents a still incomplete list of those species in danger of becoming extinct in the Central Selva and in other parts of the American humid tropics.

Wildlife exploitation: Management

Since exploitation of wildlife varies in intensity, the degree of management can also vary; extensive, intensive, and superintensive alternatives can all be carried out (Table 6-4).

Extensive management refers to harvesting wildlife in the absence of a reliable census. Significant ecosystem manipulation is not usual, although some can be accomplished when done in concert with forest management. Low cost wildlife habitat management may also be achieved in woodlots on agriculture and range land. It is frequently the only type of management successfully implemented in the humid tropics. It can be carried out at regional or local levels and can incorporate hunting quotas according to sex and species, hunting seasons, hunting restrictions, minimum size requirement, arms and munitions regulations, and regulating traps and other capture methods.

Intensive management is implemented when it is possible to measure animal populations with some degree of accuracy and when it is cost-effective. I n humid tropical forests such management is applied only on small and isolated tracts of land and along water courses. Censuses, like all other advanced techniques, are justified when they are part of a package that includes significant environmental manipulation to control natural enemies, favoring vegetation that supplies wildlife food and cover, creating special breeding conditions, providing minor elements, etc. While hunting quotas in extensive management should be conservative, intensive management allows more precise adjustment according to biotic potential and is therefore more effective.

Table 6-3

Species in danger of extinction

Pteronura braisilienses

Vulnerable species

Ateles paniscus

Priodentes giganteus

Saimiri sciureus

Tremarctos ornatus

Saguinus mystax

Felis pardalis

Cebus apella

Panthera onca

Cebus albifrons

Flupicola peruviana

Aotus trivirgatus

Melanosuchus niger

Pithecia monachus

Caiman crocodylus

Alouatta seniculus

Podocnemis expansa

Cyclops didactylus

Podocnemis unifilis

Tamandua tetradactyta

Eunectes mirinus

Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Boa constrictor

Rare Species

Dinomys branickii

Species of indeterminate status

Potos flavus

Felis yaguaroundi

Fells wiedii

Pudu mephistopheles

Superintensive management features almost complete control of a special environment (such as in an animal breeding center) and can be either artificial (cages, pens, or pools) or semi-artificial such as a managed natural lagoon.

Unmanaged exploitation is the most common type of wildlife exploitation in the American humid tropics and probably will continue to be for decades. Such exploitation is not necessarily destructive if practiced by a small number of hunters on a wide area. It is, however, damaging where large numbers of hunters and heavy harvesting rates occur such as near new settlements and farmhouses.

Farm-Forest Ecotones

Legislation in Peru, Brazil and other countries requires from 15 to 50 percent of agricultural land be left in forest cover. Although these stipulations are rarely complied with completely, they contribute to the formation of a mosaic of agricultural, livestock, and forested areas creating ecotones, or transitional zones that encourage the proliferation of certain useful wildlife species. For example, rodents the paca and the agouti - can feed on domesticated plants, such as manioc and bananas in fields and young purmas and find refuge in climax forests or older purmas. Management techniques in these areas vary according to the available habitat, the wildlife species present, the size of their populations, and the management objectives. Management can focus, for example, on export species, or on wild meat production.

Table 6-4


Principal Beneficiaries

Management Level

Principal Products

Unsound or unmanaged exploitation

Peasants, professional hunters, merchants


All classes

Management of agricultural land-forest ecotones


Intensive or extensive

Locally-consumed meat and live animals

Managed forests under ordination

Professional hunters, wood-harvesters, merchants

Extensive or intensive

Meat, skins, hides, live animals

Exploitation of forests not under ordination

Professional hunters, wood-harvesters, merchants


Meat, skins, hides, live animals

Management of protected forests

Professional hunters and merchants

Extensive or intensive

Meat, skins, hides, live animals, trophies

Management of grassland



Meat for industrial use, hides

Management of riverbanks and water courses

Peasants, professional hunters

Extensive or intensive

Skins, hides, eggs

Management of hides, live animals artificial and semi-artificial conditions

Businessmen, specialized workers

Super-intensive (Breeding)

To be used in research

Management for tourism

People involved in tourism, workers


Recreation, aesthetic experiences

Wildlife Management in Forests

Exploited forests in the humid tropics harbor wildlife that can provide sustained yields of various products.

Managing this wildlife can easily complement forest product management and maximize land use and profits. Such management may increase numbers of desirable species or reduce the populations of others.

On managed forests where 20-30 percent of the standing commercial timber is extracted on 50-year rotations, and where natural regeneration is accompanied by some silviculture, wildlife production can equal or slightly exceed that occurring under natural conditions. Since censuses are so difficult to carry out, extensive management is recommended for such situations.

A percentage of forests (10% or more), should be left intact as productive habitat. One or more tracts can be carefully located near water supplies where wildlife is abundant, to serve as animal reservoirs to repopulate surrounding hunting areas. Forested strips of at least 200-2000 mm wide separating clearings can also be considered to assure conservation of genetic diversity of plants and animals. Maintenance of gallery forests is important to protect aquatic resources, on which depend such species as otter, giant otter, and lizards; and to preserve terrestrial wildlife's drinking water supply.

Wildlife in these forests do best when the woods are reforested with the widest possible diversity of native species and age classes, especially trees that produce edible fruit.

Wildlife Management in unmanaged forests is less expensive than in managed forests and is very similar to that practiced in forest reserves. The principal difference is that harvest in unmanaged forests is unplanned and uncontrolled, which threatens the animals' health and safety and makes it more difficult to control illegal hunting.

In forest reserves, on the other hand, the vegetation remains unaltered but wildlife populations are adjusted to the areas carrying capacity. There tend to be more birds than mammals in forest reserves, leading to different management objectives. Sound wildlife management in reserves can attract profitable tourism and provide a non-destructive forest use that would help conserve soil, water and genetic resources.

Pasture Management

Pastures established for livestock also offer suitable conditions for certain wild animals living in bordering forests, such as deer and capybara, although the young of capybara is considered a serious competitor for grass. Nevertheless, the capybara is managed on the Venezuelan plains together with livestock, and it has been proven that controlled densities of this animal do not compete with livestock (Ojasti, 1973; Ojasti and Medina, 1972). In fact, given their reproductive potential and their efficiency in converting plant food to animal tissue, they offer a promising economic alternative (Ojasti, 1973,1978) (Table 6-5).

Management of Shorelines and Water Courses

Many of the most valuable wildlife species of the humid tropics live along the shorelines of rivers, lagoons, and streams and in the water courses, themselves. These include the otter Lutra, the giant otter Pteronura, the capybara, crocodiles Melanosuchus, Caiman, Crocodylus, the yapok (Chironectes), and the river turtle Poctocnemis.

Problems confronting the fauna associated with aquatic environments are deterioration of shoreline vegetation, water pollution, constant disturbance from navigation, fishing, and other human activities, and difficulty in controlling the illegal hunting that is so easily conducted from boats. When streams and lesser water courses cross forest reserves, exploited forests, woodlots in agricultural and livestock areas, and grasslands, their fauna merit careful management. This requires not only the measuring and evaluation of the most important species and the setting of conservation quotas, but also the maintenance of shoreline vegetation.

Rivers and lagoons can be managed intensively. For example, beaches used for nesting by turtles and crocodiles can be strictly protected from human abuse, and the eggs and young of these animals can be protected from their natural enemies. Brazil has extensive experience doing this with Podocnemis expansa (Brazil, 1973; Alfinito etal, 1976; Padua, 1981). Preliminary work has been carried out in Peru with crocodiles (Vasquez, 1981), as well as in other Amazonian countries (Blohm, 1973; Rivero, 1973), which suggest diverse management alternatives.

Management in Artificial Conditions

Wildlife management in semi-artificial and artificial conditions is practiced in Peru and Brazil with primates and crocodiles with excellent results (PAHO, 1976, Keliman, 1977; Coimbra-Filho, 1965; Coimbra-Filho and Magnanini, 1972; Coimbra-Filho and Maia, 1976,1977). Also discussed have been the possibilities of breeding numerous species of mammals, boas, and birds in captivity (Heltne, et at, 1980; Otero, 1978). Experimental animal breeding centers are being established in Manaus, Brazil and in Jenaro Herrera and Iquitos, Peru.

Table 6-5


Individuals per 3 ha.

Age when harvested

Weight when harvested

Average weight gain

Total weight gain













Source: Negret (1979).

Management for Tourism

Fauna in the humid tropics can be managed primarily to enable them to be encountered by tourists. For instance, in Manu National Park animals can be gradually accustomed to human presence at the salt licks and watering holes where they usually congregate. Artificial illumination may allow observation of nocturnal activity while animals can also be attracted with salt and food to locations where they can easily be seen.

Conflicts and compatibility between wildlife conservation and use and other activities

Conflicts and compatiblity will depend on the degree of wildlife management underway, and the interests of the parties to the conflict. For example, a type of indirect conflict is the intervention of preservationists and conservationists to change or stop projects for the sake of the local or global survival of wildlife species.

Conflicts with Forestry Activity

In both wild and controlled forests wildlife can damage natural and man-induced plant regeneration. Insects damage seeds, seedlings, leaves, flowers, fruits, buds, bark, and trunks causing death, retarded growth, and reduction of the quality of forest products (Table 6-6). Well known examples are the shoot borer that attacks Meliaceae (Hypsipyla grandella), ants of the genus Atta, Curculionidae, Cerambycidae, Scolytidae, and many Lepidopterae. Other invertebrates and a few vertebrates also are plant pests. Insects can reduce the durability and quality of wood and other forest products. Principal culprits include termites, ambrosia beetles (Scolytidae and Platypodidae) and wood borers (Lyctidae, Bostrychidae, and Anobiidae). Damage to trees can also be done by deer rubbing their antlers, carnivores scraping their claws, and other animals gnawing on plants.

Forestry activity can of course have an enormous effect on wildlife - principally habitat alteration and destruction. The impact on wildlife will vary directly with the amount of timber harvested. While we know that forest clearing can benefit herbivores and, therefore, carnivores because grasses grow in the cleared areas, too much selective harvest can completely eliminate certain species of invertebrates and inconspicuous vertebrates. Wildlife habitat can be reduced by clear-cutting and other super-intensive harvesting methods, and by cutting forests that adjoin rivers, streams, lagoons, and colpas (salt licks where animals congregate to obtain minerals).

Inventories, road construction, cutting trees into logs, dragging and transporting them all can seriously disturb vertebrates, destroy bird nests and young, and trample reptiles and mammals, especially nocturnal species. If timber is extracted as part of a management program that allows the forests to recuperate, damage is minimal. If, however, forest exploitation is uncontrolled, as is frequently the case, damage is serious and long-lasting.

Conflicts with Agriculture

The most common conflicts are caused by both invertebrate and vertebrate pests attracted by crops. Wildlife management in ecotones and in woodlots in agricultural areas unquestionably can create some problems. These can include damage caused to agricultural crops, such as when Dasyproctidae attack manioc and monkeys and parrots eat bananas, papayas, corn, and cacao; damage to crops caused by the birds and rodents that find refuge in woodlots; damage to animals in pens, particularly poultry, caused by small predators that are either the focus of management, such as ocelot, or that are not, such as the Tayra eira barbara, various Didelphidae (Glironia, Marmosa, Philander, and Didelphis), and Nasua nasua and other Procyonidae; damage to livestock caused by diseases of which wildlife are the reservoirs, and by attacks of vampire bats, Desmodus rotundus. Deciding not to manage wildlife in woodlots and grasslands will not solve these problems, because rodents and injurious birds will proliferate even without forests nearby, due to the enormous abundance of food provided them by agriculture. Populations of small predators can also increase because prey such as poultry is available. Furthermore, in all colonies, abundant purma woodlots exist, as a consequence of shifting agriculture.

But the most serious conflict between the agriculture and wildlife sectors is habitat destruction. In the last 50 years more than six million hectares of Peruvian forest have been removed to make room for agriculture and livestock. At present, deforestation in Peru is proceeding at a rate of 250,000 hectares a year. In all of tropical America, 4,337,000 hectares of forest are being converted annually (FAO/UNEP, 1981).

Agriculture pesticide and fertilizer use can also be indirectly detrimental to wildlife. These contaminants can enter wildlife habitat through runoff, percolation to the ground water, and currents of air. Soil erosion caused by agriculture can pollute water courses and pesticides can produce explosive population increases of pests when they unintentionally destroy beneficial species.

Conflicts with Livestock

Many pests, particularly insects and acarids, can damage natural and cultivated grasses. Wildlife can also act as reservoirs for diseases that can affect livestock. Of these diseases, the best known in the tropics is rabies, which is maintained in various wild animal species, including bats. Deer can harbor hoof and mouth disease, while numerous insects, acarids, and other invertebrates act as livestock disease vectors.

Table 6-6

Scientific Name

Types of Damage

Family Didelphidae
Didelphis asarae

Attacks poultry.

Family Cabidae and Callithricidae

Reservoirs of various human diseases, such as yellow fever, rabies, malaria, and hepatitis.

Family Emballonuridae, Phyllostomatidae, Vespertilionidae and Molossidae

Reservoirs of various human diseases such as rabies. Damage fruit.

Family Desmodontidae Desmodus r. rotundus

Attacks livestock and humans, reservoir of rabies and other diseases.

Family Bradypodidae
Choloepus hoffmani

Principal reservoir of leishmaniasis.

Family Dasypodidae
Dasypus novencinctus

Reservoir of leprosy. Damages pastures and crops.

Family Cricetidae
Orysomis sp. and others

Pest of agriculture and stored products.

Family Hydrochoeridae
Hydrochoerus hydrochoeris

Damage crops and competes with livestock for grass.

Family Dasyproctidae
Cuniculus paca
L. Dasyprocta
v. variegata

Damage crops, particularly manioc.

Family Erethizontidae
Coendou b. bicolor

Accidents caused by spines.

Family Mustelidae
Mustela frenata, Eira barbara

Damage poultry and other small domestic animals.

Family Filidae
Felis pardalis

Damage poultry and other small domestic animals.

Felis wiedii

Damage poultry and other small domestic animals.

Fetis concolor

Attack livestock.

Felis onca

Attack livestock.

Family Falconidae
Micrastur sp.

Damages poultry.

Family Psittacidae
Amazona, Aratinga y Pionus

Damage crops and fruit.

Family Icteridae, Fringillidae y Thraupidae

Agricultural pests, particularly rice.

Family Elepidae
Micrurus spp.

Poisonous bites. Bites poisonous to humans.

Family Viperidae
Bothrops sp.

Bites poisonous to humans.

Family Crotalidae
Lachesis muta

Bites poisonous to humans.

Family Iguanidae
Iguana iguana

Damages poultry.

Family Ranidae
Dendrobates sp.

Poisonous cutaneous secretions.

Many of these pests are internal and external livestock parasites. Some wild herbivores, such as capybara and deer, can become competitors with cattle for both natural and cultivated grass (this competition, however, is rarely serious; in fact, the animals often complement each other, because each species has its own food preferences).

Attacks on livestock by predators, particularly jaguar and puma, is a somewhat less serious problem, caused by stockmen eliminating the usual prey of these carnivores. Ocelots and other wild cats, the tayra, Tayra barbara. the oppossum, Didelphis, and birds of prey of course all can prey on poultry. Finally, venomous serpents can kill livestock, with snakes belonging to the genera Bothrops and Crotalus doing the most damage.

Livestock operations usually reduce and destroy wildlife habitat less significantly than the agriculture that commonly precedes them. Nevertheless, as cattle ranching becomes more prevalent in the American humid tropics, livestock operations tend to destroy the natural vegetation along the shorelines of rivers, streams, and lagoons, devastating the wildlife that live in, or drink from, these water courses. Additionally, when livestock graze within a natural, planted, or second-growth forest, they prove detrimental to the forest and the fauna that live in it, and compete with the livestock for food.

Livestock also can harbor native and introduced diseases, such as hoof and mouth disease and hemorraging septicemia, that can affect wildlife. Meanwhile, dogs, which are sometimes used to control livestock and guard homes, are a constant danger to wildlife, since they will hunt wild animals if their owners feed them inadequately.

Conflicts with Fishing

Otters, giant otters, and crocodiles often compete with large fish for the same prey. Various aquatic mammals and reptiles can also damage boats and nets, but the scarcity of these animals make them less of a problem. More serious are fishing boats damaging wildlife such as manatees with their hulls and propellers. Nets and even fish-hooks can kill many turtles, young crocodiles, and other wildlife species.

Conflicts with Human Inhabitants

Illegal or poorly-conducted hunting is the principal way human inhabitants of the forest - farmers, stockmen, woodharvesters and villagers - damage wildlife. Most hunting is illegal, except that practiced by natives living in traditional ways. Furthermore, even hunting that is permitted by law can negatively affect wildlife if it is not carried out along with careful management. The following types of hunting are recognized: subsistence hunting, which is perhaps the least detrimental to wildlife; sport hunting; pest control hunting, which can be damaging depending on the method used and how intensively it is applied; and commercial hunting, which can be the worst of all.

Forest and petroleum workers that enter virgin territory have opportunities to take excessive numbers of animals. Large numbers of a single species (Tayassu pecan, e.g.) can also die when they cross rivers or pass through settlements, becoming easy prey to hunters who massacre them. The capture, storage, and transport to national and international destinations of live animals also causes substantial mortality, sometimes exceeding 50 percent, although price increases and restrictions on live animal commerce are diminishing this loss.

The mere presence of human beings in an area disturbs fauna, with some species leaving and others becoming accustomed to the situation. Human presence can seriously interfere with reproduction, while boat, plane, and nocturnal terrestrial traffic can cause wildlife accidents and produce disturbing noise. No less important is the damage inflicted on wildlife by urban and industrial pollution transported by wind and water.

Conflicts with Infrastructure

The inundation of extensive areas by man-made reservoirs is a classic example of human action eradicating or seriously affecting wildlife habitat. Hydraulic works, in particular, can increase humidity and create swamps; large constructions that include artificial lakes also modify the microclimate. Roads, dikes, and drainage works can interrupt faunal movement and migration.

Conflicts with Mining and Fossil Fuels

The principal problem created for wildlife by fossil fuel exploration and production is soil, air, and water pollution. Cases are well-known in which ruptured pipelines and salt water dumping in Amazonia have caused serious problems, but habitat destruction by strip mining is most frequent in the humid tropics.

Areas of compatibility between the wildlife sector and other sectors

Multiple Use

Multiple use of forests, grassland, and aquatic ecosystems is economically desirable, as it optimizes the use of diverse resources. On the other hand, it is often technically and economically difficult to implement. Successful multiple use of forests that includes the exploitation of forest wildlife has been well-documented in temperate regions. It should prove equally applicable to humid tropical regions. Natural grassland can simultaneously support livestock and wild animals, such as the capybara. Certain fisheries can also be managed in association with the management of some valuable wildlife species.

Biological Pest Control

Often both vertebrates and invertebrates are economically indispensable in reducing pest damage in forest plantations, grasslands, and cultivated fields. Insects, bats and birds which eat insects and snakes can control noxious rodents in agricultural areas. Further, crocodiles, which rarely attack humans, actively prey on piranha, which are notably dangerous to animals and man throughout Amazonia.

Utilizing the Ecotone Effect

As ecotones produce more than the ecosystems that form them, they have considerable wildlife potential. The most productive natural ecotones occur along the shorelines of water courses and the boundaries of swamps and seasonally-flooded areas. Human activity, particularly agriculture and livestock operations, creates other ecotones. These include cultivated field-forest, grassland-cultivated field, and grassland-forest ecotones, as well as ecotones formed by all of these environments with secondary herbaceous, shrubby, and forest environments.


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