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Interactive impacts of by‑catch take and elite consumption of illegal wildlife

Harvesting, consumption and trade of forest meat are key causes of biodiversity loss. Successful mitigation programs are proving difcult to design, in part because anthropogenic pressures are treated as internationally uniform. Despite illegal hunting being a key conservation issue in the Pacifc Islands, there is a paucity of research. Here, we examine the dynamics of hunting of birds and determine how these contribute to biodiversity loss on the islands of Samoa. We focus on the interactive efects of hunting on two key seed dispersing bird species: the Pacifc pigeon (Ducula pacifca) and the critically endangered Manumea or tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigiristris). We interviewed hunters, vendors and consumers and analyzed household consumption. Results suggest that over 22,000 pigeons were consumed per year and this is by primarily the richest people across the country. Indeed, the wealthiest 10% of households consumed 43% of all wild pigeon meat, and the wealthiest 40% of households consumed 80% of all pigeons. The Manumea was shot by 33% (n = 30) of the surveyed hunters while pursuing the Pacifc pigeon