The use of birds as pets in Mexico
Toledo, Víctor M.
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Background: The use of birds as pets has been a historical tradition in Mexico since prehispanic times. It has survived through bird traders, called pajareros, which is a local name given to the trade (derived from pájaro, the Spanish word for bird). However, the trade of birds has not been sufficiently described; therefore, the goal of this paper is to analyze the bird trade in Mexico using the components of an ethnoecology scheme known as kosmos- corpus-praxis complex. Methods: Qualitative research techniques were used, including ethnographic immersion, participative research, and interviews of 79 pajareros in 22 localities in nine Mexican states. Results: The activity of the pajareros occurs within their households, with each member having distinct roles. The roles involved in bird trading are capturing, acclimation, maintenance, and sale. Their assignment depends on gender, age, and residential location (rural or urban). Beyond their households, the pajareros are well organized in trade unions and are represented by a leader, who acts as an intermediate between them and the government officers who are involved in the authorization of federal permits. The pajareros use 96 species of birds, most of which are native to Mexico. Practicing the trade requires highly specific knowledge of the biology, ecology, habitat, nutrition, diseases, and behavior of the birds, as well as the abiotic components of their environment, such as climatology and geography. The cosmovision of pajarero households is embedded in their identity, making them proud of their trade. Conclusions: Our paper provides the first comprehensive description of the pajarero trade, showing evidence of local communitarian management in the places where the wild birds are captured.
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