Case study of the effects of land use zoning by the Cofan indians on the conservation of threatened cracids (Cracidae) in the Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador
Johnson, Arlyne Hedemark
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A study of the effect of land use zones on the conservation of viable populations of threatened cracids (Family Cracidae), was conducted in the Cofan territory of Zabalo in the Cuyabeno Reserve of eastern Ecuador. Salvin's curassow (Mitu salvini), a cracid which exhibits high sensitivity to overharvest, was used as the subject from which to conduct the analysis. The objectives of the study were to (i) determine the relative frequency and density of Salvin's curassow in three land use zones; (ii) record sex and age-specific harvest of cracids; (iii) assess hunting protocol and community incentives for adoption of land use zones; (iv) calculate a minimum viable curassow population size which has a 99% probability of persistence for 50 years; (v) estimate a sustainable harvest and examine the impact of hunting, rates of curassow dispersal and zone size on curassow population trends. Results suggest that a Salvin's curassow population which contains 300 breeding individuals has a 99% probability of persistence for 50 years. The conservation zone, with its current curassow population density, is of sufficient size to contain a viable curassow population for the next 50 years if the guidelines of the current land use plan are maintained. As such it can serve as an important source population for the adjacent hunted zones. The current curassow harvest exceeds this study's recommendations, which estimates that approximately twenty Salvin's curassows could be sustainably harvested annually from the hunted zones. The assurance of secure land use rights and economic return from ecotourism and scientific investigation are important factors affecting the adoption and continued enforcement of land use zones by the Zabalo community.
Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador