The capybara occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range (1), and efforts have been made to control hunting in many areas (9). Despite this, the capybara is still often killed illegally, and capybara meat is commonly found in rural markets throughout Amazonia (9). However, with its fast growth rate, large size, social lifestyle, cheap diet and high reproductive output, the capybara, if properly managed, is believed to be of great potential for sustainable harvest programmes (2) (9). The species is currently hunted commercially in licensed ranches in the Llanos of Venezuela, which has apparently resulted in stabilisation of the local capybara population (3) (5) (9). The capybara is in fact more efficient at digesting plant material than cattle and horses, and ranching this species in its natural habitat provides a viable and more profitable alternative or addition to cattle ranching (3) (9). Additionally, it helps to maintain natural wetlands which may otherwise be drained for cattle (4). It has been suggested that other seasonally flooded savanna areas, such as the Pantanal of Brazil, have the potential for similar schemes for the sustainable management of this remarkable rodent (9).
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