The specter of empty countrysides and wetlands—Impact of hunting take on birds in Indo-Burma

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pHunting for the wild meat trade, medicines and other human uses has decimated Indo‐Burma's vertebrate biota and has led to widespread defaunation. Yet, there is surprisingly little data on how hunting impacts wild bird assemblages in different landscapes here. Based on concurrent snapshot surveys of bird hunting, food markets and hunting attitudes across six Indo‐Burma countries, we found that hunting threatens species not only in forested landscapes but also wetlands and farmlands such as orchards and paddy fields—ecosystems overlooked by past studies, with at least 47 species associated with wetlands and agricultural lands identified from market surveys across the region. High rates of mortality are suffered when hunting tools such as nets are used to exclude perceived bird pests in both aquaculture and agricultural landscapes, with over 300 individual carcasses of at least 29 identifiable species detected in one aquaculture landscape sampled in Thailand. We warn that the potentially unsustainable trapping of species for consumption and trade in Indo‐Burma, coupled with high incidental mortalities, could decimate the populations of erstwhile common and/or legally unprotected species. There is an urgent need for stronger regulatory oversight on the hunting take of wild birds and the use of hunting tools such as nets. Alongside this, conservation practitioners need to better engage with rural communities to address unsustainable hunting practices, especially outside of protected areas.</jats:p>

bird, defaunation, Indo-Burma, wild meat
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Conservation Science and Practice
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