10.1371/journal.pone.0161703

Differences between Pygmy and Non-Pygmy Hunting in Congo Basin Forests

Abstract

We use data on game harvest from 60 Pygmy and non-Pygmy settlements in the Congo Basin forests to examine whether hunting patterns and prey profiles differ between the two hunter groups. For each group, we calculate hunted animal numbers and biomass available per inhabitant, P, per year (harvest rates) and killed per hunter, H, per year (extraction rates). We assess the impact of hunting of both hunter groups from estimates of numbers and biomass of prey species killed per square kilometre, and by examining the proportion of hunted taxa of low, medium and high population growth rates as a measure of their vulnerability to overhunting. We then map harvested biomass (kg-1P-1Yr-1) of bushmeat by Pygmies and non-Pygmies throughout the Congo Basin. Hunting patterns differ between Pygmies and non-Pygmies; Pygmies take larger and different prey and non-Pygmies sell more for profit. We show that non-Pygmies have a potentially more severe impact on prey populations than Pygmies. This is because non-Pygmies hunt a wider range of species, and twice as many animals are taken per square kilometre. Moreover, in non-Pygmy settlements there was a larger proportion of game taken of low population growth rate. Our harvest map shows that the non-Pygmy population may be responsible for 27 times more animals harvested than the Pygmy population. Such differences indicate that the intense competition that may arise from the more widespread commercial hunting by non-Pygmies is a far more important constraint and source of conflict than are protected areas

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This paper was published in UCL Discovery.

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