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What motivates hunters to target exotic or endemic species on the island of São Tomé, Gulf of Guinea?

  • Mariana Carvalho (a1), Jorge M. Palmeirim (a2), Francisco C. Rego (a1), Nelson Sole (a3), Aristides Santana (a3) and John E. Fa (a4)...

Hunting and invasive species are amongst the main causes of species extinctions on oceanic islands. On the island of São Tomé hunting of introduced mammals (monkeys, civets and pigs) and endemic bird species has contrasting effects in terms of conservation. Hunting of introduced mammals may benefit native fauna and flora but pressure on endemic birds poses a threat to some species. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 119 hunters to assess the relative importance of native and introduced prey species, gathering information on personal profiles, preference and practice, and hunters’ perceptions of trends in prey populations. Eleven species were hunted, including five invasive mammals and five endemic birds of high conservation importance. Based on species hunted, techniques used and final destination of the quarry we distinguished three groups of hunters, using cluster analyses: bird, monkey and feral-pig hunters. Bird hunters were all from urban areas but most pig hunters were rural. Monkey hunters were mostly rural workers but a small proportion were from urban areas. Bird and monkey hunters were primarily motivated by commercial gains but they also hunted for enjoyment and food. In general, hunting of mammals is an opportunistic activity that, if regulated, can be sustainable and contribute to mitigating the effects of invasive species on local fauna as well contributing to local livelihoods. Given the economic drivers involved in hunting of birds, intervention to reduce or eliminate this form of hunting will require enforcement of legislation and raising awareness of the issues involved.

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