Understanding implications of consumer behavior for wildlife farming and sustainable wildlife trade
Wiley for Society for Conservation Biology
Copyright © 2017 Wiley
Reason for embargo
Unsustainable wildlife trade affects biodiversity and the livelihoods of communities dependent upon those resources. Wildlife farming has often been proposed to promote sustainable trade but characterizing markets and understanding consumer behaviour remain neglected, but essential, steps with important implications for its design and evaluation. We used sea turtle trade in the Cayman Islands as a case study - where turtle meat for consumption has been produced for almost 50 years, to explore consumer preferences towards wild-sourced (illegal) and farmed (legal) products and potential conservation implications. Combining methods innovatively (including indirect questioning and choice experiments), we conducted a nationwide trade assessment. Whilst 30% of resident households had consumed turtle in the previous 12 months, the purchase and consumption of wild products was relatively rare (e.g. 64-742 resident households consumed wild turtle meat, representing 0.3-3.5% of resident households), although representing an important threat to wild turtles in the area due to reduced populations. We found marked differences among groups of consumers with price and source of product playing an important role in their decisions. Despite the long-term practice of farming turtle, some consumers showed a strong preference for wild products, demonstrating limitations of wildlife farming as a single tool for sustainable wildlife trade. By using a diversified toolset to investigate demand for wildlife products, we obtained insights about consumer behaviour that can be used to develop conservation demand-focused initiatives. Lack of long-term social-ecological assessments, a common issue worldwide, hinders the evaluation and learning potential of wildlife farming as conservation tool. This information is key to understanding under which conditions different interventions (e.g. bans, wildlife farming, social marketing) are likely to succeed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This study was supported by the Darwin Initiative (Project DPLUS019).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Published online 16 August 2017
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