Chapter 9: Saltwater crocodiles: human values, conservation and sustainable use
The valuation and conservation of wildlife species considered so far in this book has mainly concerned species that are liked by human beings, even though affection for some, such as the Asian elephant, is mixed. Furthermore, most have little consumptive use value – the Asian elephant being (to a limited extent) an exception. By contrast, the species that is the main focus of this chapter, namely the saltwater (estuarine) crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), has considerable consumptive use value (mainly for its skins) but these crocodiles are feared and disliked by nearly all human beings. At one stage, due to hunting pressures, the continuing existence of saltwater crocodiles was globally endangered but now within Australia (as a result of policy changes), their population is secure and there is little threat to their continuing survival (Fukuda et al., 2011). In this chapter, after some general background is provided on crocodiles (with particular attention being given to saltwater crocodiles especially in Australia) public attitudes to the saltwater crocodile and its conservation, as indicated by an Australian survey, are outlined and discussed. The survey provides insights into the level of knowledge that Australians have of the saltwater crocodile, how much they like or dislike it, their willingness to support its survival and pay for its conservation, and the extent to which they favour its sustainable harvesting.
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