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dc.contributor.authorNijhawan, Sahil
dc.contributor.authorRowcliffe, Marcus
dc.contributor.authorCarbone, Chris
dc.contributor.authorHomewood, Katherine
dc.identifier.citationNijhawan, S., Rowcliffe, M., Carbone, C. and Homewood, K. (2018). Do cultural taboos conserve wildlife?. 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. doi: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/107782
dc.description.abstractSeveral contesting claims exist about the role of indigenous communities in wildlife conservation. Although cases of local conservation behaviour have been documented, focus has now shifted from labeling indigenous people as guardians or exploiters to identifying socio-political factors leading to local conservation within the broader context (Smith and Wishnie 2000)1. We empirically tested the effectiveness of cultural norms, especially hunting taboos, in regulating hunting in Idu Mishmi community of Northeast India. Idus harvest large-bodies animals under strict taboos linked to the notion of cosmic retribution. We combined the anthropological framework on hunting and ritual (Valeri 2000)2, with a quantitative analysis of wild meat consumption to understand the interaction between ritual practices and wealth on wild meat consumption patterns (Brashares et al. 2011)3. Monthly data were gathered on wild meat consumption, hunting activity and observance of taboos with a representative sample of 90 households from January to September 2014. These variables were modeled as a function of household wealth, education, ethnicity and seasonality using a mixed-effects framework. Results show that rich outsiders and wealthiest among the Idus consumed considerably more wild meat than others. Observance of taboos was stricter in Idus of lower wealth classes and with lower levels of education. Though taboos apply to anyone who consumes wild meat, they are stricter and longer for the hunter. Wealthier Idus bought meat from the less wealthy thereby using wealth to transfer the burden of taboos over to the poor. Combined with long-term qualitative data and animal density estimates from camera trap studies, we show that in this situation cultural restrictions do impact hunting. However, taboos are less effective when the society is linked to wider market economy as is the case with wealthier Idus. Finally, I argue that Idu hunting taboos do not work in isolation, rather all cultural restrictions are connected to one another and are fundamental in the making of Idu identity. This research contributes to debates on making conservation more relevant and effective by incorporating complex dimensions of human-nature relations. 1 Smith, E. A., and Wishnie, M. 2000. Conservation and subsistence in small-scale societies. Annual Review of Anthropology. 29, pp. 493-524. 2 Valeri, V. 2000. The forest of taboos: Morality, hunting, and identity among the Huaulu of the Moluccas. University of Wisconsin Press. 3 Brashares, J.S., Golden, C.D., Weinbaum, K.Z., Barrett, C.B. and Okello, G.V., 2011. Economic and geographic drivers of wildlife consumption in rural Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(34), pp.13931-13936
dc.publisherOpen Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
dc.rightsCC BY 4.0
dc.titleDo cultural taboos conserve wildlife?
dc.type.coarconference paper not in proceedings
dc.rights.copyright© the Authors, 2018
dc.relation.conferenceECCB2018: 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland

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    5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland

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CC BY 4.0
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