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concept. On this there seems to be unanimity of opposition from all conventional political movements from the capitalist right to the Marxist left.
I would contend that the discovery of alternatives to destruction can come from the results of purely basic (i.e., nonapplied) studies. I have developed this theme in detail elsewhere (Robinson, 1985, 1986). In Chapter 42 of this volume, Rubinoff deals in detail with the scheme that we developed in Panama—a scheme based on the principle that native species of plants and animals should be considered for domestication and cultivation, as opposed to the use of exotics introduced at the behest of the developed world. In Panama, the animal studies include the green iguana (Iguana iguana), a large folivorous lizard, and the paca (Cuniculus paca), a caviomorph rodent widely esteemed for its succulence. Both these animals had been the subject of numerous academic studies before being considered as potential alternatives to destruction. The National Research Council’s Board on Science and Technology for International Development, on the other hand, has deliberately set out to search for animals that have a high potential for domestication or husbandry (NRC, 1983). This approach was thus project-oriented from the start. Both approaches are valid and potentially productive. The purist approach has some exciting implications. Tropical regions are often the scene of highly coadapted/coevolved communities of plants and animals. It would seem that these communities should, a priori, be the place to search for exploitable bioresources that can be used by humans. They can be regarded as having a high potential for containing species that are preadapted for human use.
As an example of this we can briefly consider the paca. This rodent lives on the floor of rain forests in Central and South America. Its activity is nocturnal. These facts set the scene for its potential utility. Because it lives on the forest floor, does not climb trees, and is a rodent, it has a proscribed food source. It feeds on fruits that fall to the ground from the trees and to a much lesser extent on roots and seedlings. It utilizes the secondary products of the forest that are unavailable to humans and most grazing animals (exotic or indigenous). Fruitfall in the humid tropics is sporadic, but the paca subsists on an intermittent food supply by scatter hoarding during times of plenty (intermittent fruitfall may be an interspecific adaptation to ensure dispersal; Smythe, 1970). Thus pacas can prosper without destroying forest. They are almost tailor-made for domestication. Being nocturnal they do not need the capacity to run long distances to escape predators. They can be fat, unlike their diurnal complementary species the agouti (Dasyprocta spp.). Their disadvantages are a low reproductive rate, small families, and solitary social life.
In other parts of the world, there have been similar adaptations in response to similar environmental and biological pressures. The bearded pig (Sus barbatus), found in Borneo, Java, and the Philippines, is a forest floor fruit eater, grows to a substantial size, and copes with intermittent or seasonal fruit supplies by migration from area to area. It is clearly a candidate for exploitation within the forest (NRC, 1983; Robinson, 1986). There are similar adapted animals in Australasia, despite the absence of large placental animals there. The tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus spp.) is a leaf-eating arboreal animal that might prove to be as suitable for domestication as the iguana. In Malaysia and throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast