Veríssimo, D., Vieira, S., Monteiro, D., Hancock, J. & Nuno, A. (2020) Audience research as a cornerstone of demand management interventions for illegal wildlife products: demarketing sea turtle meat and eggs.Conservation Science and Practice, 2(3), e164. DOI:10.1111/csp2.164 (IF2020 3,233; Q1 Biodiversity Conservation)
The unsustainable wildmeat trade has been long recognized as a threat to wildlife. Yet, its impact on marine species has been underresearched. Sea turtles have been historically threatened by unsustainable trade, but there are few studies of consumer profile, motivations, and preferences. We conducted a survey in São Tomé Island, Gulf of Guinea, West Africa, including eight rural communities (n = 1,160) and the capital city of São Tomé (n = 628). We estimated prevalence of consumption, preference and availability of sea turtle meat and eggs. About 25% of rural and 32% of urban respondents had consumed meat in the past year. Around 25% of rural respondents were egg consumers, whereas little consumption was found in urban areas. Social norms were a predictor of consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs in rural communities but not in São Tomé city. Regarding influencers, teachers and religious leaders were the most trusted sources in rural communities, while teachers and NGOs were most trusted in São Tomé city. Radio and television were the most trusted channels in rural communities, while urban dwellers trusted radio the most. This research showcases how a structured approach to audience research can obtain behavioral insights that can guide behavior change efforts.