Conservation, Vol. 3, Pages 303-318: Cultured Manatee Meat Aiding Amazon Biodiversity Conservation: Discussing a Proposed Model
Conservation doi: 10.3390/conservation3020021
Ana Flavia S. Abrahao
Joao Paulo F. Rufino
Germano Glufke Reis
Cultured meat (CM) is a disruptive technology that provides an alternative to animal protein. In this context, the Amazon manatee (Trichechus inunguis) emerges as an important case. Although it is illegal to hunt this large mammal, its meat continues to be consumed, causing several threats to its natural habitat. The aim of this study is to explore the impacts of introducing the Amazon manatee CM into the traditional meat value chain as a tool to aid the biodiversity of the Amazon Basin. Thus, we developed a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats matrix from the content analysis of 11 interviews conducted between October 2021 and May 2022. The interviewees were experts in different fields, ranging from financial analysts of novel food technologies to biologists, researchers, and others. We presented the theme of illegal hunting and its consequences during the interviews, followed by the CM process, and explained how the royalties from the sale of this innovative product could help to preserve Amazon biodiversity through the proposal of a new business model. The main findings suggest that the proposed model would produce good results, but the threat of a rebound effect from the consumption of wild animals was mentioned in most responses, especially by actors involved in conservation. The strengths and opportunities of this disruptive narrative mainly focused on preserving biodiversity and promoting environmental awareness, combining the conservation of wildlife and the consumption of novel food. The weaknesses included the lack of knowledge and the non-existent market. This framework is relevant for policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, and researchers seeking to improve the sustainability not only of the species found in the Amazon, but also around the world.
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