Illegal take of nesting sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica: Conservation, trade, or tradition?

Rojas-cañizales, Daniela, Restrepo, Jaime, Mejías-Balsalobre, Carmen, Barrios-Garrido, Hector, and Valverde, Roldan (2022) Illegal take of nesting sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica: Conservation, trade, or tradition? Journal of Environmental Management, 324. 116408.

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Tortuguero, Costa Rica is considered the second largest green turtle (Chelonia mydas) rookery in the world. By 1950, Tortuguero was one of the sites with the greatest take of green turtles in the Caribbean. Currently, Tortuguero is a worldwide example for ecotourism-based on sea turtle conservation. However, illegal take of nesting turtles still occurs. We aimed to describe the illegal take at Tortuguero, estimating the minimum number of sea turtles taken using data collected during daily and weekly track surveys from 2005 to 2021. Additionally, we conducted 12 semi-structured interviews with key informants to obtain a better understanding of this activity. We documented 735 nesting turtles illegally taken at Tortuguero, being the green turtle the most affected species; these findings were also supported by our interviewees. Respondents stated that in Tortuguero the take of sea turtles has always occurred and traditions regarding sea turtle meat consumption are still present, even though it is considered shameful in the village. However, our interviewees affirmed that most of the sea turtles taken are traded to other locations away from Tortuguero. Our findings represent the minimum of illegal take (documented only at the beach), as not all the sea turtles taken were observed. Finally, despite long-standing conservation efforts carried out in Tortuguero, further changes in the National Park's management plans are needed, including more personnel and increased law enforcement. This may be necessary to reduce the impact on the Tortuguero green turtle nesting population in the near future.

Item ID: 76719
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8630
Keywords: Green turtle; Caribbean; Wildlife traffic; Protected area; Aquatic bushmeat
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Copyright Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2022 01:02
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190210 Trade and environment @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 50%
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