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Oil and wildlife don't mix in Ecuador's Eden
Date:9/10/2009

What harm can a simple road do in a pristine place such as Ecuador's Yasuni National Park, home to peccaries, tapirs, monkeys and myriad other wildlife species? A great deal, it turns out. Specifically, it can turn subsistence communities into commercial hunting camps that empty rainforests of their wildlife, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the IDEAS-Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador have found.

A study by WCS field scientists in the park found that the presence of a single road in a protected area and the subsidies provided by oil companies to local people can fundamentally change how indigenous communities use their resources by providing both access to deeper parts of the forest and a cheap means of getting meat to nearby wildlife markets.

The study appears in the most recent issue of the journal Animal Conservation.

"We've found that a road in a forest can bring huge social changes to local groups and the ways in which they utilize wildlife resources," said WCS and USFQ researcher Esteban Surez, lead author of the study. "Communities existing inside and around the park are changing their customs to a lifestyle of commercial hunting, the first stage in a potential overexploitation of wildlife."

" A simple, seemingly inoffensive road can have far-reaching effects on a landscape and its people," said Dr. Avecita Chicchn, Director of WCS's Latin America and Caribbean Program. "It provides hunters with more access to a wider range of forest while providing a low-cost transportation route to markets. More importantly, it plugs communities more easily into the larger economic world while creating increased demand for numerous species of animals. It is the road to unsustainability."

In the study, WCS scientists measured the levels of wild meat sold in a market in Pompeya, located about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) outside Yasuni National Park, between the years 2005-2007. T
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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