Commercially breed reptiles to reduce pressure on wild populations
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Wildlife breeding farms are sometimes used with the goal of alleviating the pressure of harvesting or collecting on wild reptile populations. However, if not carefully regulated, breeding farms may be used to ‘launder’ illegally harvested reptiles, thereby allowing illegal trade to continue (Lyons & Natusch 2011).
To be included, ideally studies should have tested the impact of commercial breeding on wild populations, and this should be taken into account when considering the effectiveness of this action. However, often the effects on wild populations are not explicitly or directly tested.
For studies that assess the impact of releasing captive-bred or head-started reptiles into the wild, see Species management – Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild and Head-start wild-caught reptiles for release.
Lyons, J.A. & Natusch D.J. (2011) Wildlife laundering through breeding farms: illegal harvest, population declines and a means of regulating the trade of green pythons (Morelia viridis) from Indonesia. Biological Conservation, 144, 3073–3081.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A study in 2014 in the Cayman Islands (Nuno et al. 2018) found that where there was a commercial turtle farm, consumption and purchase of wild turtle products was rare, though some residents still showed a preference for wild turtle meat. Overall, around 1% of households illegally consumed eggs in the prior 12 months and 2% illegally bought turtle meat. Among consumers who preferred buying uncooked turtle meat, 14% showed a preference for wild meat over farmed meat. Of residents that consumed turtle during the prior 12 months, 37% bought it from the turtle farm and 62% did not buy uncooked turtle meat (e.g. consumed at restaurants). During the 12 months of the study, no source of legal, wild turtle meat was available to consumers. In 1968, a commercial breeding operation was established to provide turtle meat for consumption and reduce pressure on wild stocks. In 2014, surveys of 100 households from each of six districts were carried out, and respondents were asked about turtle meat consumption, purchase and participation in illegal behaviours relating to sea turtles (see paper for details of questioning methods). In addition, 182 consumers of turtle meat were asked further questions about their preferences.Study and other actions tested