Bush meat hunting can provide long-term socio-economic benefits to local communities and help conserve Amazonian biodiversity through maintaining intact rainforests. A pilot program set up by FundAmazonia, the Darwin Initiative, and collaborators for peccary pelt certification is a mechanism to manage bush meat hunting sustainably. Prior to this programme there was no mechanism to manage subsistence hunting. Peccary pelt certification is now a functioning mechanism to manage subsistence hunting.
The major impact of peccary pelt certification is its role as a catalyst for community-based wildlife management. Communities that manage their wildlife sustainably participate in the certification programme and in turn, secure added income from the sale the peccary pelts, and are recognised as responsible environmentally sensitive communities that are helping to save the Amazon rainforest. These incentives help communities convert unsustainable practices to more sustainable hunting. With an increasing number of communities becoming certified the project is enhancing the conservation of Amazon forests, providing added income for rural families and demonstrating the importance of the environmentally sensitive European consumer as a driver for sustainable development of the Amazon rainforests. Indeed, the greatest legacy of this project is its contribution to the improved livelihoods of rural Amazonians and the conservation of Amazon forests.
The success of the peccary pelt certification programme in the long-term will be sustainability of both the biodiversity benefits and the ability of local partners to continue implementing the certification program.
The peccary pelt certification programme is based on a set of wildlife management guidelines that communities follow to attain certification. The guidelines for wildlife management were developed through biological and socio-economic research conducted over a 20 year period and include:
1. Limits should be established on hunting animals resilient to overhunting such as collared peccary, white-lipped peccary, brocket deer, agouti, and paca.
2. Reduce or stop hunting animals vulnerable to overhunting, such as primates, tapir, jaguar, manatee, and giant river otter.
3. Set up hunting registers to monitor hunting activity and abundance through CPUE. Registers should record the time spent hunting, numbers of each species hunted, the location where the animals were hunted, sex of the animal, and the date.
4. Work with project staff to evaluate the sustainability of hunting using the Unified Harvest Model and establish hunting limits.
5. Set source (non-hunted) and sink (hunted) areas. Source areas will buffer hunted areas against overhunting and will help long-term sustainability.
6. Conserve wildlife habitat.
These guidelines were implemented differently in each community depending on their socio-economic and cultural realities.
The long term biodiversity goals of the project were to help conserve Amazonian forests with all its biodiversity through community based wildlife management. The project has set into motion this long term goal. Peccary pelt certification is giving local communities the economic incentives to implement community based wildlife management. In turn, community based wildlife management is helping communities use wildlife resources more sustainably, helping to maintain intact forests and helping communities set non-hunted community protected areas