Garden game: Shifting cultivation, indigenous hunting and wildlife ecology in western Panama

  • Smith D
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Abstract

Participatory research documented the hunting yields of 59 households in five neighboring indigenous villages in western Panama. These households cap- tured 2,580 kg of game over 8 months, with 47% of the harvest coming from agricultural areas. The quantity of game captured in anthropogenic habitats is influenced by the hunting strategies employed. Only 25% of game captured during hunting trips was captured in agricultural areas, as opposed to 93% while “awaiting” and 65% using traps. Reliance on different strategies is in turn dependent on age, gender, and access to firearms. I argue that garden hunting is not a response to game depletion, but rather a productive activity that is complementary to broader cultural and economic patterns, and that simultaneously protects crops from animal predation. The creation of het- erogeneous habitatmosaics through shifting cultivation has played a key role in the relationship between people and wildlife in the humid neotropics, lead- ing to adjustments in both animal foraging patterns and indigenous hunting practices.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Buglé
  • Cultural landscapes
  • Indigenous hunting
  • Neotropical wildlife
  • Panama
  • Shifting cultivation

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Authors

  • Derek A. Smith

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