Gestión cinegética racional ligada a la praxis de la caza y la recolección. ¿Entelequia aristotélica o quimera? uri icon


  • Rational management of hunting and gathering: An Aristotelian entelechy or a chimera? Since the dawn of time, consumption of animal protein has been crucially important to the evolution of humans. Cooperative hunting is an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy from the time when Palaeolithic hunters specialized in the pursuit of large animals. The entire process involves making decisions related to game management, some of which are still used by contemporary hunter-gatherers. In these societies, which still practice subsistence hunting, the composition of their diets and the exploitation techniques employed are explained by the theoretical underpinnings contained in the Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT). In order to test this theory, we have taken into account four decisions involving the adoption of different management strategies by hunter-gatherers: I) what to eat, II) where and how to look for food, III) the most appropriate size and composition of the group of hunter-gatherers and IV) the most efficient guidelines for the handling and distribution of prey. The OFT has been tested several times, and in a high percentage of cases studied, its predictions fit observations made in various hunter-gatherer societies. This means that maximizing catch yields in the short term is their main concern, rather than behaving as 'cautious predators' or passively selecting prey according to their size, accessibility and abundance. Such behaviour does not contradict the possibility that hunter-gatherers can act as conservationists, but discards the idea that this is the main focus of their way of life. There is no doubt that indigenous peoples have a wide knowledge of the environment, but it is unclear this knowledge is used to maintain a balance with nature or to be more efficient hunters. It more likely that the presence of sustainable hunting of game is due to low hunting pressure in areas where animal prey is abundant, and is thus an epiphenomenon rather than a deliberate strategy by hunters to conserve prey stocks. On the basis of available data, to continue to uphold the myth of the 'ecologically noble savage' is as fallacious as it is dangerous in the face of current and future problems. This misconception stems, in part, from the confusion of what is meant by sustainability and conservation. However, it should be noted that the conclusions drawn in this review are strictly academic and do not justify improper moral judgments about the rights of hunter-gatherers.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2018