Wild meat sharing among non-indigenous people in the southwestern Amazon

  • André Valle NunesEmail author
  • Rafael Dettogni Guariento
  • Bráulio Almeida Santos
  • Erich Fischer
Original Article


Food sharing is found in many traditional societies around the world. The uniqueness of pervasive sharing among humans, especially among non-related individuals, has been explained by a variety of social and ecological models. Here, we investigated whether the sharing of wild meat among hunters in an extractive reserve in a tropical forest is influenced by the kinship, social structure, and biomass of hunted species. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 59 households from 12 villages along the Liberdade River in the Amazon forest. The interviewees mentioned approximately 1.8 tons of hunted animals (25 species) during 177 incursions, and donated 890 kg of wild meat to other households. The meat-sharing was mainly mediated by the biomass hunted. The higher the biomass, the greater the sharing among households, either between related or non-related hunters. The inter-household sharing of wild meat was dominated by medium- and smaller-bodied species that are commonly hunted. When we look at hunters’ importance in the sharing network, the older hunters and those returning higher biomass were more prone to share in their villages. The overall meat-sharing pattern indicates that hunting activity is involved with social bonds, and it may ultimately favor food security in the studied villages.

Significance statement

We found that Amazonian non-indigenous populations descended from rubber tapper colonists present an inter-household and within-village network of wild meat sharing that mostly depends on the biomass hunted by different households, rather than on the social structure, kinship, or prey species, which are relevant factors for food sharing in other indigenous or non-indigenous populations. In addition to hunted biomass, hunter age affects the importance of hunters’ contribution to the meat-sharing network within the villages. The sharing pattern, mainly driven by the hunted biomass, can collectively improve the cost-benefit balance of hunting and contributes to food security through social ties, strengthening the socio-ecological system of these non-indigenous populations in Amazonia.


Food transfer Hunting Social ecology Tropical forest Wild meat 



We are grateful to the riverine households, community leaders, and the reserve managers for kindly contribution during the fieldwork, and to three anonymous referees for helpful comments on the manuscript. We also thank P.A.L. Constantino for comments during the preparation of this paper.


Logistical and financial support were provided by Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), the program Áreas Protegidas da Amazônia (ARPA), the Associação Agroextrativista da Reserva Extrativista do Rio Liberdade (ASAREAL), scholarship grant from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) to AVN, and research grants from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) to BAS (310340/2016-0) and EF (307016/2015-3).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study complies with the current laws of Brazil, with procedures approved by the National Committee of Ethic in Research (Comissão Nacional de Ética em Pesquisa – CONEP).

Informed consent

All participants were informed about the objectives of the study and they signed formal agreements, in accordance with procedures approved by the CONEP.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e ConservaçãoUniversidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Sistemática e EcologiaUniversidade Federal da ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil

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