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Changing trends and perceptions of sea turtle egg consumption in Redang Island, Malaysia

Meenakshi Poti, Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Organism Biology, Systems Ecology and Resource Management Research Unit (SERM), Brussels, Belgium; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences, Department of Biology, Brussels, Belgium; Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia
Seh Ling Long, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia; Perhentian Turtle Project, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia; Lang Tengah Turtle Watch, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mohd Uzair Rusli, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia
Jarina Mohd Jani, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Faculty of Science and Marine Environment, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia
Jean Hugé, Open University of the Netherlands, Faculty of Science, Department of Environmental Science, Heerlen, the Netherlands; Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Organism Biology, Systems Ecology and Resource Management Research Unit (SERM), Brussels, Belgium; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences, Department of Biology, Brussels, Belgium
Farid Dahdouh-Guebas, Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Organism Biology, Systems Ecology and Resource Management Research Unit (SERM), Brussels, Belgium; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences, Department of Biology, Brussels, Belgium

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12717-260414

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Abstract

Sea turtles have been exploited at unsustainable rates globally. In Malaysia, their populations have faced serious declines because of diverse anthropogenic stressors including turtle egg consumption. Redang Island, off the northeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia, is an important rookery for green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Southeast Asia. The local community has depended on turtle eggs as a food and livelihood source for decades. Owing to the precipitous decline in sea turtles, the main nesting beaches became legally protected in 2007. Some turtle egg consumption continues despite the protection measures and long-term awareness raising. In our study, we assess the prevalence, motivations, demographic factors, and perceptions influencing turtle egg consumption and conservation. Through semi-structured interviews, we surveyed 73 respondents in Redang village. The interviews show that turtle egg consumption has decreased since the initiation of protection measures, making the eggs expensive and difficult to access. Using binary logistic regression, we found that the respondents’ education level and occupation were significant predictors. Education level was negatively correlated with age. People with higher levels of education (younger people) were less likely to eat turtle eggs, possibly on account of changing cultural beliefs and taste preferences, as well as increasing awareness. Those working in the tourism industry were less likely to consume eggs. The growth in tourism has served as an alternative to livelihoods that were dependent on the consumptive use of natural resources such as fishing and turtle egg collection. Further, tourism has catalyzed a shift from consumptive to non-consumptive uses of sea turtles. Many locals perceived the protection of beaches as important, without which they claimed that turtle populations would go extinct. This research shows that addressing sea turtle conservation requires a multi-targeted approach of regulating sea turtle egg collection, providing economic alternatives such as tourism and long-term awareness raising.

Key words

behavior change; human–sea turtle interactions; local livelihoods; sea turtle eggs; social-ecological system; South China Sea; wildlife consumption

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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