Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Capybaras are hunted for their meat and leather, both of which are said to be very high-quality. Capybara meat is especially popular during Lent, the 40-day period prior to Easter, because it is approved by the Catholic church as an alternative to beef or pork. (Presumably, the semiaquatic habit of the capybara convinced early priests that it was similar to fish.) Large-scale ranching of capybaras has been proposed to curtail illegal hunting and the animals have proved easy to domesticate, at least in small numbers. In fact, capybaras are more efficient grazers than cattle or other introduced livestock and are already an important source of food for many local people.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material
- Grant, W. 2009. "Venezuela's Giant Rodent Cuisine" (On-line). BBC News. Accessed April 12, 2009 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7987587.stm.