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The effects of ammunition price on subsistence hunting in an Amazonian village

  • Anders H. Sirén (a1) and David S. Wilkie (a2)

Research has shown that consumers of wildlife are price sensitive and that the quantity of meat purchased is influenced by the cost of bushmeat and its substitutes. Although there is evidence that hunter-gatherers are optimal foragers whose behaviour is influenced by costs associated with foraging, there is a paucity of studies on whether the behaviour of bushmeat hunters, like that of consumers, is cost sensitive. This paper reports data on the practices of indigenous bushmeat hunters in the lowland forests of Ecuador before and after a national tax on firearms and ammunition was increased by 300%. Results show that hunters' behaviour is, as predicted by optimal foraging theory, responsive to price signals. After a substantial increase in the national tax on shotgun cartridges, hunters modified the set of species considered worth hunting, dropping smaller-bodied species from the set of species they target during a hunt and switching the technology used for hunting, increasingly using muzzle loader shotguns and thus avoiding the cost of expensive cartridges.

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* Current address: Department of Geosciences and Geography, P.O. Box 64, Gustaf Hällströms gata 2a, FI-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland
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