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

Agnese Mancini, Jesse Senko, Ricardo Borquez-Reyes, Juan Guzman Póo, Jeffrey A. Seminoff, Volker Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-756
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Keywords

  • Baja California Sur
  • Black market
  • Fisheries
  • Illegal wildlife trade
  • Law enforcement
  • Mexico
  • Poaching
  • Sea turtles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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