5.1 The socio-economic scenario
5.2 Habitat relations
5.3 Wildlife populations
5.4 Proposed management strategies
5.5 North-South relations
Any durable, successful human endeavour must be socially and politically acceptable, economically viable, and, above all, ecologically sustainable (Child and Nduku (116)). The outstanding Mexican conservationist, Enrique Beltrán (46), elaborates the same concept in his chapter "The Pillars of Planning: Ecology, Economy and Sociology". This approach is also consistent with IUCN's World Conservation Strategy (1980).
In the special case of wildlife, non-compliance with any one of the above conditions will result in serious conflict. Subsistence hunting, for example, may satisfy the first two conditions, but it is not usually ecologically sustainable. Controlled commercial hunting of capybaras on private farms may be profitable and sustainable, but it is of little social value. Breeding wild species in captivity may be sustainable and socially acceptable, but its economic viability is usually open to question. Likewise, strictly protectionist policies may be justifiable from the ecological standpoint but, at the same time, run counter to the interests of the local population. The (limited) attention now being paid to wildlife in Latin America focuses almost exclusively on the ecological aspects, which constitute the technical framework for wildlife management. However, the prospects for wildlife as a resource depend to a great extent on the socio-economic framework.
People constitute one of the three basic components of wildlife management (Figure 3). The geographical distribution of Latin America's population presents a heterogeneous mosaic ranging from densely populated rural areas and megalopolises to vast demographic vacuums into which the agricultural frontier is only now beginning to intrude. In this scenario, independently of distribution, fast population growth and slow economic growth are the distinguishing features. The population doubles on the average every 30 years while the growth in aggregate income and food production barely covers the basic needs of this expanding population. Development focuses primarily on the urban sector at the expense of an increasingly exploited rural sector. Rural development is also occurring in a context of unequal land tenure. As a result, most of the rural population lives in a chronic state of critical poverty, practising subsistence economies (usually) incompatible with the rational use of renewable natural resources. Moreover, the official agencies responsible for these resources often lack the political power or will or technical capacity to direct and supervise the sustained utilization of these resources. The implications of this socio-economic and demographic scenario for wildlife are: 1) heavy pressure from subsistence and commercial hunting, as at present; 2) the profound alteration of indigenous wildlife habitats; 3) little or no control over either of these processes by the competent authorities, and, 4) mounting pressure on wildlife and wildlife habitats as the human population continues to grow. How serious the situation is varies from one country or region to the next, but the general trend is the same everywhere except where there has been vigorous reform to attack the root causes of underdevelopment and rural marginalization.
Woodland in its various forms is the most widespread natural vegetation in Latin America, and also home to the greatest wealth of fauna (113, 237, 360). Savannah land, while extensive, lacks a native megafauna comparable to that of Africa and other tropical regions, and therefore, with respect to its wildlife, the contribution of this biome is not proportionate to its size (445). There are also considerable tracts of arid, high, montane and non-tropical grassland ecosystems, each with its special forms of wildlife. Freshwater aquatic and wetland ecosystems, while not very extensive in area, host a great variety and abundance of animal life.
The demands inherent in economic and population growth are now profoundly altering the natural habitat, and yet we know very little of the true dimensions of this change. The most striking trends are the alteration and shrinking of forest areas, the increase in open and successional areas, the degradation and desertification of arid and grassland ecosystems, and the draining, damming and pollution of water and wetland areas. These modifications usually have a deeper and more lasting impact on indigenous wildlife than direct wildlife utilization does.
The impact of habitat modification is more critical for forest species, which includes most of the key neotropical game species (Table 27). Deforestation for agriculture and livestock production and for logging is steadily altering and shrinking the vital space of forest wildlife. Many wildlife species require vast and continuous tracts of primary forest, and thus strict conservation is the only viable way of managing their habitat. The conversion of forests is often irreversible, menacing the survival of many wildlife populations, and will continue apace or accelerate in the next few decades. On the other hand, deforestation does provide more habitat for wildlife species that occupy open and successional areas.
Habitat management to foster wildlife production is virtually unknown in Latin America, although some agricultural and livestock production activities may incidentally have a favourable impact on wildlife: e.g. irrigation systems, watering-points and fruit trees. Unfortunately, vast areas of open habitat are also being degraded by overgrazing and irrational agricultural practices, causing soil compaction and loss, accelerating erosion and altering the hydraulic regime. Very little is known about the extent of chemical contamination in Latin American wildlife habitats. It is believed, however, that the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals may be creating problems at the local level. Speaking in very general terms, it is not unreasonable to conclude that wildlife habitats are undergoing constant and often irreversible modification, in most cases to the permanent detriment of the wildlife they contain. The establishment of specially protected areas can partly mitigate this situation, but they are too small and too ineffectively supervised to offer full protection (see 5.4.2).
Figure 3. Graph of the global context of Latin American wildlife
The most outstanding characteristics of neotropical wildlife are the great wealth of species, high degree of endemism and relative scarcity of large vertebrates. There is a connection between this last characteristic and animal biomass levels. The total biomass of native mammals in tropical American ecosystems is very small compared to the respective figures for the African savannah (940-2 246 kg/km2 in forests and 379-1 084/km2 in forest/savannah mosaics: these figures refer to protected areas (175, 520, 573)). The figures can be higher in exceptional cases in South America, such as the wild camelids of southern South America and the capybara and caiman in the tropical wetlands. Many species lack a clearly- defined reproductive periodicity, making it difficult to programme hunting seasons.
Latin American game animals can be classified into two major groups: 1) forest and river wildlife; and 2) open habitat, mixed and wetland wildlife. These two groups are neither entirely natural nor mutually exclusive, but the distinction does make it easier to work out management options.
Animals in the first group, which includes most of the key game species, are confined to rivers and forests and tend to be specialists in primary or climax habitats, long-lived and not very prolific (K-selected species). Such species are very sensitive to habitat modification and intensive hunting. They are also the target of subsistence hunting, a widespread practice. Abundance is very hard to estimate as they are difficult to spot in their habitats (with the possible exception of primates). These circumstances, combined with the paucity of biological data, are a serious constraint on real management options for this group of species.
Wildlife species of open, mixed and wetland habitats, on the other hand, are usually less diverse. There are fewer large species (Table 27). Unspecialized, relatively prolific species that can adapt to different habitats, including modified environments and even agro-ecosystems, tend to prevail. This group of wildlife species is also utilized (at least partially) by sport hunters, a more easily supervised group than subsistence hunters. Generally speaking, more is known about the biology of open habitat species than about that of forest-dwellers. Open habitat wildlife management should therefore be technically more viable. And wildlife management in Latin America has indeed been most successful in open habitats, as witnessed by the vicuña (72, 282, 486), capybara (446, 448) and whistling duck (358, 363) programmes.
Independently of habitat type; wildlife is proportionately more abundant in remote or fairly unpopulated areas where the resource is shared by fewer users. There are few objective studies on the impact of hunting on wildlife abundance (Table 28). But there is substantial qualitative evidence that subsistence combined with commercial hunting has notoriously reduced the abundance of several of the larger, more valuable species. In all likelihood, the optimum carrying capacity of the habitats of the preferred game species far exceeds their numbers. The productive capacity and socio-economic contribution are minimal at these very low population densities. The progressive decline of wildlife populations, now underway or already a fait accompli depending on where and which species, is one of the most serious Latin American wildlife problems.
To conclude, the general scenario of wildlife protection (Figure 3) is one of an expanding human population, conditioned by archaic patterns of land ownership and peremptory underdevelopment, that is demanding more productive areas and more game in a milieu where the mechanisms for allocating and overseeing such resources do not really work. Under these pressures, wooded areas (and unmodified habitats in general) are shrinking and secondary habitats expanding, though not in terms of quality. At the same time, wildlife populations are being increasingly harvested, fostering the depletion of the most valuable species. The situation is now turning even more critical for the forest species as they are the ones most seriously affected by habitat loss.
5.4.1 Total protection
5.4.2 Protected areas
5.4.3 Sport hunting
5.4.4 Captive breeding
5.4.5 Extensive management of commercial species
5.4.6 Environmental education
5.4.8 Wildlife protection services
5.4.9 Other strategies and approaches
The above scenario is very worrying from the political, economic and social standpoints, and in ecological terms as well. The fate of wildlife is inextricably bound up with this scenario. First of all, wildlife protection hinges on the development of policies designed to check the (human) population explosion, smooth the socio-economic contrasts, put rural development on an ecologically, socially and economically sound footing, and apply other measures to right the balance between society and nature.
And secondly, the fate of wildlife hinges on the implementation of specific environmental policies to conserve, develop and utilize the resource in a rational manner. Some options and strategies now increasingly applied in Latin America are discussed below.
Several countries in the region, such as Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela (from 1974-79), have enacted total bans on hunting in their territory, either explicitly or through the refusal to grant hunting licences. This policy is based on the premise that a total ban will protect wildlife populations and allow them to increase, and that at the same time research will provide a basis for the utilization of these populations. The approach, backed by conservationists and the anti-hunting movement, tends to find its greatest support among the urban middle class. Countries having adopted this strategy (seemingly the most effective one for wildlife protection) have in some cases succeeded in halting commercial hunting for export and reducing sport hunting. However, there are no indications as yet of an overall increase of wildlife numbers in these protectionist-minded countries. This may well be due to the ineffectiveness of legal restrictions in the rural sector, where people tend to be ignorant of such measures, or it may have to do with the traditional dependence on wildlife and the fact that hunting goes on as before because of gaps in the wildlife protection services. Under a system of blanket prohibitions, poaching also becomes the sole option open for sport hunting enthusiasts, and over time gains social acceptance. Likewise, clandestine channels spring up for illicit commercial hunting and smuggling. The upshot is that laws designed to favour wildlife may have the exact opposite effect in Latin America, turning wildlife utilization into an extensive and completely unmanageable illegal activity of unknown scope.
A total ban is fully justified for critically endangered species, but it needs to be backed by information campaigns and wildlife protection services. A general moratorium on hunting might be acceptable as a short-term, transitory, emergency measure. But the available experience and information so far certainly indicates that full protection is inoperable as a permanent policy, and produces serious side effects.
The main conservationist thrust in several Latin American countries is to establish and maintain systems of protected areas. There is also general consensus on the fundamental role of such conservation efforts in wildlife policy (see 4.3.4). A system of protected areas that includes representative samples and tracts of unmodified ecosystems can ensure the survival of species imperilled by encroaching habitat modification. While offering great potential, this approach also suffers from serious drawbacks:
1) National parks and other conservation units constitute a tiny fraction of the national territory in most Latin American countries (Table 36) and in the region. National parks comprise 1.8 percent of the overall territory, and all areas under special regimes 4.5 percent. In places with many convergent interests, conservation programmes are at an obvious disadvantage in competing with more strongly backed land uses that enjoy political and economic support.
2) Many protected areas can become ecological islands over time because they are too small to guarantee the survival of the species they contain (175, 216, 597, 630).
3) Protected areas usually lack even the minimal wildlife protection, administrative services, and political backing necessary to guarantee their integrity. Developing countries simply do not have the trained personnel and the funds to properly manage such areas. The result is that hunting, fires and new settlement, etc. tend to be very common on land adjacent to national parks and other protected areas.
4) Protectionist ideas and policies have traditionally prevailed: they can be viewed as the antithesis of development. Stringent conservation should clearly be the priority in many cases, but there is also a need to promote the establishment and operation of multi-use conservation so as to permit sustained utilization of wildlife resources for the benefit of local people. However, as is true of total bans, it is easier from the technical standpoint to simply decree a blanket prohibition than to implement a plan for sustained utilization. This is why the great potential contribution of wildlife in forest reserves and other protected production areas is not receiving the management attention it deserves.
5) The greatest risk in laying the emphasis on protected areas is probably the implicit assumption that wildlife is safe within the parks, refuges and reserves, and that little or nothing can be done to protect or develop wildlife resources in the rest of the country. This is why it would be better to reallocate efforts, personnel and money so as to cover both wildlife protection and management on a countrywide basis.
In many Latin American countries, hunting laws and policies and wildlife management and administration models tend to mirror successful models from industrialized countries. Sport hunting is the dominant mode, a wildlife utilization strategy involving compulsory hunting licences, regionalized hunting seasons with bag limits per species and other measures designed to rationalize utilization and promote user awareness. Support for hunting clubs and associations and the establishment of reserves and various forms of cooperation between the administrative bodies and the resource users are additional features. In some countries the earnings from licence fees are earmarked exclusively for wildlife management and research: in Venezuela the Federation of Hunters has volunteered funds for this purpose. The main limitation of this strategy is that it covers only a tiny fraction of all hunters (Table 21). With very few exceptions, it has absolutely no effect on the great mass of rural people who hunt not for sport but for food and income, and who harvest most of the wildlife crop in a totally unsupervisable fashion.
Many authors recommend breeding wild species in captivity as a conservation measure (1, 6, 8, 17, 54, 56, 60, 61, 67, 86, 107, 122, 125, 138, 148, 151, 153, 186, 220, 232, 282, 322, 330, 357, 359, 367, 391, 404, 424, 432, 434, 475, 494, 497, 503, 504, 542, 555, 576, 578, 582, 605, 613, 619, 636). The basic premise of this option is that it permits sustained production of wildlife while reducing the exploitation of wild populations.
The neotropical biota has contributed a great many cultivated plants to humanity but very few truly domesticated animals: just the Muscovy duck, the coypu, the guinea-pig, the chinchilla, the llama and the alpaca. Many others are kept as pets or in zoos and collections. There is also data and background to affirm the biological viability of breeding various wild species (e.g. iguana, Caiman, some primates, the collared peccary, the paca and the capybara). The existing breeding establishments are, however, experimental, dependent on subsidies, and of as-yet-unproven economic viability. A captive breeding establishment must first procure animals from wild populations. Management is usually more complicated and more expensive than for conventional domestic animals: in pragmatic terms, captive breeding is certainly no panacea (134, 446, 473, 573). Additionally, captive breeding can be used by dishonest individuals as a front for selling the products of illegal hunting.
Clearly, captive breeding could relieve the pressure on wild populations if it cost less to produce animals than to hunt them, but this is not the case at present. Breeding domestic animals should theoretically lower the demand for bushmeat in rural areas, but despite the fact that barnyard and farmyard animals are very common in rural areas, hunting continues because game is generally the cheapest form of red meat. The premise that captive breeding would relieve the pressure on wild populations is therefore very much open to question.
Captive breeding can be a very valid option. The protection of species critically endangered by habitat destruction (125) and the breeding of animals on the brink of extinction (e.g. Crocodylus spp.) for reintroduction into the wild are two cases in point. The big reptiles with high natural mortality during the early stages of life deserve special consideration. Conceivably, the protection of their nests and neonates, or artificial incubation, might increase recruitment. The captive breeding of some species might also be cost-effective, particularly where there is a big international demand for live animals, e.g. primates and ornamental or songbirds. The paca can be added to this list because its meat is much in demand, as can the capybara because it is relatively easy to manage and highly productive. In any case, the principal contribution of commercial captive breeding would be economic: providing jobs, food and income for rural people.
Commercial hunting is the most controversial form of wildlife use and the one mainly responsible for the vertiginous decline of many populations (see 220.127.116.11). In all likelihood, most commercial hunting is still illegal and totally unmanaged, although significant efforts have been made in the proper management of some commercial species such as Podocnemis expansa, Caiman crocodilus, the vicuña and the capybara in recent decades.
The goal of Podocnemis expansa management is to recover the Amazon and Orinoco basin populations of this valuable turtle by protecting females, nests and newly-hatched turtles on spawning beaches. A slight population increase has been achieved in Brazil where the programme has been intensively pursued since 1975, but Venezuelan populations are still falling (191, 459). This turtle, with its migratory habits and long life cycle, plus the socio-economic complications involved, is particularly hard to manage.
Another plan with vast socio-economic implications involves the vicuña management programme that began in Peru in 1967 (72, 282) and in Chile in 1973 (506). The economic justification for the recovery of this key altiplano species through protection measures was that vicuña populations could be harvested rationally for the benefit of rural communities, who would assume increasing responsibility for vicuña management. There has been an impressive recovery of vicuña populations in protected areas, particularly in Peru, with strict enforcement of wildlife protection, although enlisting local participation in the programme has been somewhat less successful.
The management of capybara populations in Venezuela (since 1968) and Caiman (since 1982) for sustainable commercial harvesting draws its inspiration from the assumption that rural landowners will support wildlife management plans that can generate a lasting source of income. Under the terms of this scheme, the wildlife services establish sustainable harvest quotas based on the on-farm capybara or Caiman populations and supervise the trade and marketing of the respective products. Owners respond by respecting quotas, acting to prevent poaching, and implementing other measures designed to favour these two species. Generally speaking, the model works but there is room for improvement in terms of population estimation techniques and user motivation. The main drawback is that the strategy is hard to apply on small campesino farms, which detracts from its social value.
One key to environmental policy success is a carefully designed strategy that includes information, extension, education and public participation. This is clearly spelled out in the wildlife legislation of many countries such as Argentina (25), Brazil (76), Guatemala (249), Mexico (387) and Panama (457). The sector has developed unevenly in the countries of the region, but the trend is mostly positive. Formal environmental education is also on the government agenda in some countries. Public and private environment-related agencies and the media may also contribute in an informal way. Over time, environmental education is believed to produce a more rational and responsible public response to the environment and environmental resources. But the effect is rarely an immediate one and the message does not reach the entire population. The rural sector, the one most dependent on natural resources, is usually the least informed. Quite plausibly, a carefully prepared message addressed to the rural sector explaining the environmental legislation in force plus technical suggestions for a more sustained use of wildlife resources would have a better environmental impact than the dogmatic and exclusively protectionist messages in current use.
Scientific research is another basic wildlife policy tool. In several countries state attention to the promotion of research activities is laid down by law (25, 127, 135, 468, 601). Wildlife research, though lagging behind that in the industrialized countries, has expanded considerably in the last two years (3.18.2). Some countries also have trained staff, and significant progress can now be made. The problems of applied wildlife research in Latin America are fundamentally organizational and financial. In the absence of sound wildlife research strategies, research has tended to either stagnate or to develop on an ad hoc basis, divorced from the more pressing management priorities. As a consequence, the population aspects and the biology of certain key game species, which are essential for management, tend to be the weakest items on the research agenda. Close cooperation, planning, and joint research on the part of wildlife services, universities and other research institutes (successfully if only partially achieved in Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, etc.) is an extremely promising approach, and international cooperation has made a significant contribution here as well, leading to a number of projects which developing countries alone would never have been able to afford. Given the current critical economic climate in Latin America, there is an even more pressing need for this approach; always assuming that project implementation means close collaboration between the national and foreign institutions, and that projects are adapted to national priorities.
The data gathered for this study shows that Latin American countries lack carefully defined wildlife protection strategies. Many of the wildlife administrators interviewed acknowledged that this was the weakest link in the chain (see 4.1.3). Wildlife protection is a particularly difficult job in Latin America, where several illegal forms of wildlife utilization are considered socially acceptable or justifiable, and where there is a great gap between the legislation and what really happens in the field.
Human resources are a fundamental problem in wildlife protection. Protection is only a secondary duty for most of the people responsible for providing it, and both the training and the motivation of such staff is questionable. Doing the job right means much field work in a hostile environment and a great many privations. Confrontations with poachers generate resentment, threats or attempted bribery and, occasionally, grave personal risk. This being so, the ad honorem game inspectors invoked as a possible solution to wildlife protection problems have not proved successful. Technically speaking, wildlife protection staff need some training in law, wildlife biology, rural sociology and public relations, and they also need political and logistical back-up (autonomy of movement, communications, supplies, lodgings, an authorized firearm, etc.). Despite the value of this difficult task, the game warden is traditionally the lowest-ranking member of the wildlife services in social, economic and professional terms. Obviously, then, economic and professional upgrading of wildlife protection staff should have top priority in the restructuring of wildlife protection services so urgently needed in almost all neotropical countries.
The wildlife protection services are a fundamental pillar of wildlife management anywhere, even where there is broad public awareness of the value of wildlife resources and of the law. All the more reason, then, to give them higher priority in Latin America, where such conditions generally do not obtain. And yet, protection remains, implicitly or explicitly, a secondary function in terms of both the staffing chart and strategy. Sanctions for perceived infractions are usually applied much too elastically. The end result is a yawning gap between "office" policy and reality on the ground, which is so characteristic of our milieu and so harmful to the resource (and in the final analysis to users as well).
In Aldo Leopold's classic definition, wildlife management is basically a form of land use dedicated to wildlife production. The premise here is that wildlife should be considered as simply one more land use objective in an overall environmental planning context, and not as an isolated element. This approach (recommended by some experts, e.g. 164, 269, 336, 438 and 525) hopes to reinstate the potential of wildlife as a tool for sustained development in the eyes of planners and policy-makers, the whole within a context of multiple resource use. The application of this principle has been a key to success in countries where progress has been greatest. With very few exceptions, wildlife production as the sole or main use of a given area is quite unlikely. Nor would it be realistic to hope that neotropical wildlife might become a foreign exchange earner on the scale of some of the East African countries, where the scenic value of wildlife is one of the main sources of foreign income from tourism. Wildlife can make a much greater contribution in Latin America, however, if it is allowed to realize its potential productivity. One great advantage of wildlife production is that it can be extensive, occurring throughout a territory including habitats unsuitable for other forms of land use. The net productivity of wildlife per unit of surface area, even under optimum conditions, can be fairly small. But if one reckons in the size of the territory, wildlife can be a significant earner. Méndes Arocha and Medina Padilla (385), using the best available biological and map data, concluded that by the year 2000 Venezuela's wildlife could be producing from 5 to 9 percent of the national demand for meat and various raw materials for industry, and providing recreation for the urban population.
A major and socially significant contribution is being made by a team of the FAO Regional Cooperation Network on National Parks, other Protected Areas and Wildlife, working jointly with the FAO/UNEP Project on the Management of Wild Areas, Protected Areas and Wildlife in Latin America and the Caribbean. This project, "Wildlife Management for Rural Development" (191), explicitly acknowledges the close connection between rural people and the indigenous wildlife, exploring the real capacity of wildlife to provide sustained economic benefits to rural communities, and developing lines of action, information and technical cooperation designed to implement concrete plans in line with the above principles. This is an innovative initiative. Wildlife policies, with few exceptions such as the vicuña project and the policy on river turtles, fail to give the rural sector the attention it deserves. There is even a tendency to view rural people as a hindrance. Wildlife management as a rural development tool seems very much the right solution in the medium-and long-term; it has a solid socio-economic basis and invites public participation. Clearly, however, it will not be easy to implement this model, and a major effort will be needed, particularly at the national planning level.
Although soils, water, and plant and animal wildlife are traditionally cited as the main renewable natural resources, wildlife is, in practice, often seen as a conservation issue. Promoting the resource value of wildlife is interpreted as a short-term, utilitarian approach. Many of the mistakes made in the past may well justify this attitude and yet, given the socio-economic situation of the Third World, where slim budgets do not stretch to cover the pressing need for education, health, public services, economic development and so forth, state allocations for various activities need to match the economic and political importance of these activities. Where large sectors of the populace are living in extreme poverty and lack the most basic services, official attention to wildlife conservation will understandably be minimal, indeed virtually token. Wildlife is thus caught in a vicious circle. Sidelined as a result of ruthless overexploitation and habitat destruction, it receives the bare minimum of budgetary support - just enough to keep the basic bureaucratic functions alive.
As rightfully pointed out by the wildlife administrators interviewed, lack of funds is always a limiting factor, forcing the postponement of many priority projects. One possible way out of this vicious circle is to promote the resource value of indigenous wildlife, making it a part of rural development plans, with the same solid technical planning, monitoring, and public or private financing that any development project receives. Planners and administrators work with economic variables, not one of the strong points of the wildlife services. Wildlife can be successfully and effectively integrated into development plans when wildlife professionals are able to demonstrate that investing in wildlife production is safe, profitable, sustainable and compatible with other uses.
Wildlife management in Latin America contrasts with the unusually advanced development of the sector in North America, but there are major linkages between these two major regions: international agreements, shared game stocks (both migratory and resident), and to some extent a flow of technical information. North American researchers, for example, have contributed to studies of the basic biology of neotropical wildlife, and some Latin American professionals have done post-graduate work in wildlife management in northern universities. The successive editions of the Wildlife Society's "Wildlife Management Techniques Manual" and the recent version in Spanish have offered a solid methodological basis for Latin American professionals. The backlog of experience accumulated in North America has thus benefited the development of wildlife management in Latin America, but many management strategies which work well in the north are not really applicable to Latin America.
In North America, hunting has a primarily recreational function. This is a society with high living standards and high incomes. The efficient collection of money from hunting licences and fees generates income for wildlife protection and administration, habitat management, and high-level research well-coordinated with university research. Most of the key game species are adapted to modified environments and reproduce seasonally, facilitating management. Relatively stable land use patterns also prevail, and public opinion favours wildlife policies.
In Latin America, only the narrow sector of middle-class "legal" sport hunters can be compared to the average North American hunter. Most of the direct wildlife users are campesinos hunting to feed their families or sell what they take. They neither comply with the law nor could they come up with the funds to manage the resource they exploit. The environment is being steadily and increasingly modified, and the situation is further complicated by the large number of species requiring primary habitat, continuous reproduction, and the basic problems of rural poverty and isolation. The problem of Latin American wildlife requires its own solutions, geared to the specific realities of the countries, the region and the type of user.