Conservation of a socio-ecological system: Indigenous hunting communities and bearded pigs in Malaysian Borneo
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Berkeley

Conservation of a socio-ecological system: Indigenous hunting communities and bearded pigs in Malaysian Borneo


In a telecoupled world, people and ecosystems are intricately linked across vast spatial scales. Consumption patterns, disease, and other factors on one side of the world often reverberate powerfully to shape landscapes, socio-cultural practices, and wildlife distributions in farremoved locales. These new realities require sustainability to be fundamentally achieved at global scales in order to have lasting sustainability for people and wildlife at local and regional systems. To consider these themes, my collaborators and I study a socio-ecological system of Indigenous hunting communities and bearded pigs, a cultural keystone species, in Malaysian Borneo. In Chapter 1, we build an intellectual framework that considers the ways that telecoupling unfolds in Sabah and Sarawak, driving oil palm expansion, deforestation, and socialchange. In Chapter 2, we carry out single-season, single-species occupancy models for bearded pigs that show the association of both socio-cultural factors (e.g. ethnicity and hunting accessibility) as well as environmental factors (e.g. protected area status and elevation) on bearded pig distributions across Malaysian Borneo. In Chapter 3, we document ways that oil palm plantations and urbanization have changed bearded pig hunting practices among Indigenous Kadazandusun-Murut (KDM) hunters in Sandakan District, Sabah. We also describe the ways that some hunting motivations, such as meat provision and gift-giving, have endured despite widespread changes in land-use. In Chapter 4, we investigate intergenerational hunting knowledge transfer within KDM hunting communities, also in Sandakan District, Sabah. Almost two-thirds of respondents had not, or were not intending, to pass on their hunting knowledge to their children. Moreover, many respondents reported low hunting interest among the younger generation, suggesting diminished importance of hunting practices in the future among KDM communities in Sabah. Together, our findings highlight the salience of social practices and Indigenous knowledge for bearded pig distributions in Malaysian Borneo. Our results also raise important questions about the nature of conservation values and human-wildlife interactions in a world in which hunting practices, and connection to nature more broadly, are in decline. Ancient socio-ecological links—including hunting, recreation, and other social practices—highlight profound connection points for long-term sustainability of human cultures, biophysical landscapes, and wildlife communities.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View