Ethno-ornithology and conservation of wild birds in the semi-arid Caatinga of northeastern BrazilReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine

, 9:14

First Online: 27 February 2013Received: 25 September 2012Accepted: 23 February 2013DOI: 10.1186-1746-4269-9-14

Cite this article as: Alves, R.R.N., Leite, R.C.L., Souto, W.M.S. et al. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine 2013 9: 14. doi:10.1186-1746-4269-9-14


The utilization of birds as pets has been recognized as one of the principal threats to global avifauna. Most of the information about the use and sale of birds as pets has been limited to areas of high biodiversity and whose impacts of anthropic actions have been widely broadcast internationally, for example for the Amazon Forest and forest remnants of Southeast Asia. The Caatinga predominates in the semi-arid region of Brazil, and is one of the semi-arid biomes with the greatest biological diversity in the world, where 511 species of birds exist. Many of these birds are used as pets, a common practice in the region, which has important conservationist implications but has been little studied. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to detail aspects of the use of birds as pets in a locality in the semi-arid region of Northeast Brazil. Information on the use of avifauna was obtained through interviews and visits to the homes of 78 wild bird keepers. A total of 41 species of birds were recorded, mostly of the families Emberizidae n = 9 species, Columbidae n = 7 species, Icteridae n = 6 species and Psittacidae n = 3 species. The birds that were most often recorded were Paroaria dominicana n = 79 especimens, Sporophila albogularis n = 67, Aratinga cactorum n = 49, Sporophila lineola n = 36, Sicalis flaveola n = 29 and Sporophila nigricollis n = 27. The use of wild birds in the area studied, as an example of what occurs in other places in the semi-arid Northeast, demonstrates that such activities persist in the region, in spite of being illegal, and have been happening in clandestine or semi-clandestine manner. No statistically significant correlation were found between socioeconomic factors and keeping birds as pets reflects the cultural importance of this practice of rearing wild birds for pets in the region, which is widespread among the local population, independent of socioeconomic factors. Obviously, human pressure on the avifauna exploited has ecological implications and makes it clear that conservationist measures should consider the cultural, economic and social aspects of these practices. These measures should be carried out by both directly combating the illegal traffic of animals and promoting educational campaigns aimed at all the players involved, from the collectors up to the consumer and wild bird keepers.

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Author: Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves - Railson Cidennys Lourenço Leite - Wedson Medeiros Silva Souto - Dandara M M Bezerra -


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