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Rural-urban mobility influences wildmeat access and consumption in the Brazilian Amazon

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>26/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>ORYX
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Amazonian research demonstrates substantial urban consumption of wildmeat and documents the existence of trade networks. Yet, we know that rural-urban mobility persists in this now-urbanized region, maintaining the circulation of people, things, and ideas, blurring boundaries between rural and urban lives. Here we examine the relationships between rural-urban mobility and wildmeat access in highly-forested areas of central Brazilian Amazonia. We surveyed 798 households in four towns, and 311 rural households in 63 riverine communities. Rural-urban mobility endured among urban households: 49.7% maintained rural livelihoods, and 57.3% were headed by rural in-migrants. Although many urban consumers purchased wildmeat, gifting was equally important. Urban households with greater rural-urban mobility consumed more wildmeat and were less likely to purchase it. Buying wildmeat was rare in rural areas but emergent in larger communities. Rural consumption was higher in remote areas, non-floodplain communities, and during the high-water season. Urban populations placed intensive pressure on three preferred species (Cuniculus paca, Tapirus terrestris, Tayassu pecari), whereas rural consumption was relatively diverse. Yet, rural per capita wildmeat consumption was four-times higher (21.1kg±6.2 versus 4.9kg±1.0 person/year). We estimate 3,732 tons annual wildmeat consumption across 43 riverine urban centres in central Amazonia, compared to 11,351 tons/year in surrounding rural areas. Due to extreme poverty in these towns and socially-mediated wildmeat acquisition, it is debatable whether urban consumers should, or could, be denied wildmeat access entirely. Nonetheless, the likely continued increase in urban demand – and related risks to sustainable, equitable resource use – necessitates monitoring and management of rural-urban flows of wildmeat.