Despite complete legal protection, improvements in infrastructure, and market conditions that provide easier access to other protein sources, illegal poaching of sea turtles for consumption in Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico remains a major threat to their recovery. Few studies have focused on understanding the economic and social drivers behind this activity, which is fundamental to determining best practices for discouraging it. From June 2007 to April 2008 we conducted eight in-depth, semi-structured interviews with sea turtle poachers at five coastal communities in BCS to determine the drivers influencing them. The most prevalent reasons for illegal poaching were direct economic benefits, lack of law enforcement and ease of escape from or bribery of authorities, and strong family tradition. Our results suggest that to reduce illegal poaching it will be necessary to better enforce existing environmental laws, reduce social acceptance of sea turtle hunting throughout the region, educate fishers on the ecological importance of sea turtles, and show fishers direct economic benefits from non-consumptive use of sea turtles, such as ecotourism.
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We would like to thank the Secretaría para el Medio Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) for providing the permits under which this study was conducted (SGPA/DGVS/03846). This project was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencias y Tecnologias (CONACyT) grant SEMARNAT-2004-C01-277. Special thanks to Dr. Milner-Gulland and three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions that clearly improved this manuscript. We would like to thank all the fishermen that allowed us to interview them. Special thanks go to Javier Villavicencio, Alfredo Benitez, Gabriel Zaragoza, Francisco Fisher, Julio Solis, and Willy for their invaluable help. We would also like to thank the many members of Grupo Tortuguero for supporting our project. AM was funded by Rufford Small Grants for Conservation and Society for Conservation GIS (SGIS).
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Mancini, A., Senko, J., Borquez-Reyes, R. et al. To Poach or Not to Poach an Endangered Species: Elucidating the Economic and Social Drivers Behind Illegal Sea Turtle Hunting in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Hum Ecol 39, 743–756 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-011-9425-8