Many non-indigenous species have been imported into rainforest areas for agricultural and ranching purposes. These decisions have been based on economic demand rather than the ecological suitability of an organism for that particular terrain. Many millions of cattle and water buffalo have been introduced into Amazonia, where they have created environmental havoc. For cattle ranching, many millions of hectares of rainforest have been razed, although the soil rapidly becomes unsuitable for forage grasses. Water buffalo, Southeast Asian creatures, wreak havoc on riparian (river edge) environments, where they wallow. The riverbank vegetation and fauna are devastated and the loss of vegetation causes serious erosion of the banks. Much rainforest land, especially in the delta area of the Amazon River, has been cut for rice cultivation. Rather than introduce such destructive exotic species, one could raise local game to meet demand for meat, rather than cattle or water buffalo, and local crops rather than rice, for instance. These species could be raised with minimal disruption of the natural ecosystem. Butterflies are being raised on farms in Papua New Guinea and Mexico. The paca, a nocturnal rodent of the South American forest, eats fruits, roots, and other plant matter from the forest floor. Thus it could be used to exploit resources not currently being utilized by non-native domesticated animals, which are mostly grazers. The paca does well without damaging the forest; indeed it is part of the natural ecosystem of the forest (Ocana, et al., 1988). Another potential domesticate is the bearded pig of Southeast Asia, which plays a similar role to the paca in the Asian rainforest ecosystem (Robinson, 1988). Iguanas are being raised in Panama, and the “harvest” of meat could produce a sustainable yield of 230 kilograms per hectare per year, while cattle yield after several years drops to 10 or 15 kilograms (Ocana, et al., 1988). The wing bean, a minor crop in Asia, is easily raised, very nutritious – 40% protein and 17% edible oil – and is delicious (Spears, 1988).

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