Impacts of rural to urban migration, urbanization, and generational change on consumption of wild animals in the Amazon

Willandia A. Chaves, Denis Valle, Aline S. Tavares, Thais Q. Morcatty, David S. Wilcove

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13 Scopus citations


For the first time in history, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas. This trend is likely to continue, driven largely by rural-to-urban migration. We investigated how rural-to-urban migration, urbanization, and generational change affect the consumption of wild animals. We used chelonian (tortoises and freshwater turtles), one of the most hunted taxa in the Amazon, as a model. We surveyed 1356 households and 2776 school children across 10 urban areas of the Brazilian Amazon (6 small towns, 3 large towns, and Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon Basin) with a randomized response technique and anonymous questionnaires. Urban demand for wild meat (i.e., meat from wild animals) was alarmingly high. Approximately 1.7 million turtles and tortoises were consumed in urban areas of Amazonas during 2018. Consumption rates declined as size of the urban area increased and were greater for adults than children. Furthermore, the longer rural-to-urban migrants lived in urban areas, the lower their consumption rates. These results suggest that wild meat consumption is a rural-related tradition that decreases as urbanization increases and over time after people move to urban areas. However, it is unclear whether the observed decline will be fast enough to conserve hunted species, or whether children's consumption rate will remain the same as they become adults. Thus, conservation actions in urban areas are still needed. Current conservation efforts in the Amazon do not address urban demand for wildlife and may be insufficient to ensure the survival of traded species in the face of urbanization and human population growth. Our results suggest that conservation interventions must target the urban demand for wildlife, especially by focusing on young people and recent rural to urban migrants. Article impact statement: Amazon urbanite consumption of wildlife is high but decreases with urbanization, over time for rural to urban migrants, and between generations. Impactos de la Migración del Campo a la Ciudad, la Urbanización y del Cambio Generacional sobre el Consumo de Animales Silvestres en el Amazonas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1186-1197
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology


  • bushmeat
  • carne de monte
  • carne silvestre
  • demanda urbana
  • fauna silvestre
  • randomized response technique
  • rural exodus
  • tortoise
  • tortuga acuática
  • tortuga terrestre
  • turtle
  • técnica de respuesta aleatoria
  • urban demand
  • wild meat
  • wildlife
  • éxodo rural


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