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Even-Toed Ungulates: Artiodactyla - Behavior And Reproduction

bushmeat live artiodactyls hunting

Though often seen in pairs or trios, artiodactyls are social and live in groups. Adult sexes live separately for most of the year (though they may share a range), and offspring live with females. Males tend to live where food is more plentiful because they require more energy due to their larger size. Females, on the other hand, tend to live in areas that are more protected from predators because they have the responsibility of raising the young, which are susceptible to predation during the first few months of life.

Artiodactyls are equipped with horns or antlers used for fighting, but physical confrontation is risky because it requires energy that could be used for mating or feeding. Because of this, many artiodactyls will use displays, or behaviors, such as vocalizations or postures, to force an opponent to withdraw. During these displays, the animals do their best to appear as big as possible by raising their fur or standing sideways. They seem to use color patterns in their communications as well, though to what degree we do not know. For example, white-tailed deer raise their tails as a warning signal to other deer that danger is near. This exposes the long white hairs on the rump

THE BUSHMEAT CRISIS

Many of the world's tropical forests are hunting zones for bushmeat (wild meat). Not only does the meat sustain people because it is a food source, but also because bushmeat hunting is the livelihood of local people. Where once bushmeat hunting was on a smaller scale, involving only low-impact technologies, it is now a booming international business, and one that can no longer be sustained.

According to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), there are many reasons why bushmeat hunting is no longer a sustainable activity. Some of them are:

  • Remote tropical forest areas are being opened up at an alarming rate through logging. Whereas inhabitants who live there once existed without interaction in the modern world, they are now being given access to a cash economy and modern consumer markets. No longer are inhabitants native to the area, but often landless migrants searching for work.
  • Many forest people have lived in a trade economy one in which they bartered or traded goods and services. Now that they are being forced into a cash economy, there may be the tendency to over-exploit their natural resources so that they can participate in the economy. Bushmeat hunters may begin to overhunt so that they can provide large quantities of the wild meat to wholesale resources.
  • New hunting technologies are killing bushmeat animals at a faster rate than they are able to reproduce, thus decimating the herd numbers. This is what leads to extinction.

The bushmeat crisis has become such a concern that in 2004, the ODI began a project titled "Wild Meat, Livelihoods Security and Conservation in the Tropics." The project's aim is to consider the bushmeat crisis in terms of livelihood for humans as well as conservation for the environment and animals.

and underside of the tail, so as it waves the tail from side to side, the stark white contrasts with the darker fur and surroundings, such as plants, trees, etc.

Most species give birth to one or two young at a time. The pig is the exception, with four to eight young born each pregnancy. Artiodactyls breed once a year, and babies are usually born just as plants start to bloom. This allows plentiful food for mother and baby, which ensures nutrient-rich milk for the mother and a long growing period for the newborn.

Babies are able to walk and even run within hours of birth, and they either hide when mother is away or stay close to her during the first few weeks of life. Those who hide include the smaller species. The larger species live in more open habitats and have fewer places in which to hide.

Male artiodactyls mate with several females each mating season, and they usually do not form bonds. Pregnancy lasts from five to eleven months, depending on the species. Artiodactyls are ready to breed at eighteen months of age, and females give birth for the first time around the age of two. Artiodactyls can live to be ten to thirty years old, but the average age of death is much lower. Because of their keen senses and ability to run fast, artiodactyls don't often fall prey to other animals.

Even-Toed Ungulates: Artiodactyla - Artiodactyls And People [next] [back] Even-Toed Ungulates: Artiodactyla - Diet

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