The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations

A. Benítez-López*, R. Alkemade, A.M. Schipper, D.J. Ingram, P.A. Verweij, J.A.J. Eikelboom, M.A.J. Huijbregts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


Hunting is a major driver of biodiversity loss, but a systematic large-scale estimate of hunting-induced defaunation is lacking. We synthesized 176 studies to quantify hunting-induced declines of mammal and bird populations across the tropics. Bird and mammal abundances declined by 58% (25 to 76%) and by 83% (72 to 90%) in hunted compared with unhunted areas. Bird and mammal populations were depleted within 7 and 40 kilometers from hunters' access points (roads and settlements). Additionally, hunting pressure was higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat could be traded. Mammal population densities were lower outside protected areas, particularly because of commercial hunting. Strategies to sustainably manage wild meat hunting in both protected and unprotected tropical ecosystems are urgently needed to avoid further defaunation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-183
Issue number6334
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2017

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