An Evaluation of the Contemporary Uses and Cultural Significance of Mammals in Mexico

  • Dulce María Ávila Nájera Universidad Politecnica de Huatusco
  • Eduardo J Naranjo El Colegio de la Frontera Sur
  • Barbara Jane Tigar University of Central Lancashire
  • Oscar Agustin Villarreal Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
  • Germán David Mendoza Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana
Keywords: Cultural value index, Ethnozoology, Wildlife conservation, Conservation management


We evaluated current uses of wild mammals by indigenous and mestizo communities in Mexico by extracting data from 59 sources published or produced between 1987–2017, covering data from 240 localities and 3,905 questionnaires. We then calculated a Cultural Value Index (CVI) previously applied to plants to quantify resource use and assess the cultural significance of each mammal. A total of 82 species were reported, and the animals with the highest cultural importance according to their CVI (in brackets) were two species of deer (Odocoileus virginianus [18.32] and Mazama temama [10.04]), as well as the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus [14.18]), white-nosed coati (Nasua narica [14.75]), collared peccary (Pecari tajaccu [11.90]), northern raccoon (Procyon lotor [11.28]) and spotted paca (Cuniculus paca [9.84]). The most common uses were for food, to reduce the damage or harm they cause, and for medicinal purposes, with O. virginianus, P. lotor, N. narica, and D. novemcinctus frequently hunted for all these reasons. Our analysis also highlighted the hunting of rarer species of national conservation concern, including commercial trading of body parts of the felids Panthera onca, Leopardus pardalis, and Leopardus wiedii. By quantifying the ethnozoological significance of wildlife to indigenous communities, indices such as CVI provide a robust measure of the extent of use and preference for particular species or taxa. This adds to the body of evidence used to develop effective regulations and laws related to harvesting and hunting, and helps promote a more sustainable and long-term approach to the use of natural resources.

Author Biographies

Dulce María Ávila Nájera, Universidad Politecnica de Huatusco

Dulce María Ávila Nájera is a Postodctoral Researcher in the Universidad Politecnica de Huatusco, Mexico. Her research interests focus on the ecology and conservation of big cats, particularly interspecies interactions and competition, and the sustainable management and cultural uses of wildlife.

Eduardo J Naranjo, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur

Eduardo J. Naranjo is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Conservation Biodiversity of the Colegio de la Frontera Sur in San Cristobal de las Casas. His research interests are in population ecology and the sustainable use and conservation of wildlife in tropical areas of Mexico and Mesoamerica.

Barbara Jane Tigar, University of Central Lancashire
Barbara Jane Tigar is a Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Biology at the University of Central Lancashire. Her research focuses on using applied ecology to find sustainable solutions to global challenges, including the management of endangered and pest species and the impact of alien invasive species on native ecosystems.
Oscar Agustin Villarreal, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
Oscar Agustinis Villarreal is Director of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla. His main research interests are in the diversification of agroforestry production through the conservation, management, and sustainable use of wildlife and their habitats.
Germán David Mendoza, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana
Germán David Mendoza is Coordinator of Doctorate studies in Agricultural Sciences at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco Campus. His main research interests are animal nutrition, starch and cellulose digestion in ruminants, and the nutritional evaluation of habitats.


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How to Cite
Ávila Nájera, D. M., Naranjo, E. J., Tigar, B. J., Villarreal, O. A., & Mendoza, G. D. (2018). An Evaluation of the Contemporary Uses and Cultural Significance of Mammals in Mexico. Ethnobiology Letters, 9(2), 124-135.
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