Although the extensive wild meat or bushmeat trade drives many tropical species to the brink of extinction, this threat applies not equally to all species. Most rodents, for example, are due to high reproductive rates resistant to high levels of hunting and provide a relatively sustainable protein source. Species producing fewer offspring, like primates, are threatened by even low levels of hunting and are consequently of higher conservation interest. Moreover, these species are associated with different risks of zoonotic disease transmission. However, little is known about whether people choose these species for various reasons. In this case, different strategies aimed at reducing the use of bushmeat could also affect species differently. We investigated this possibility for broadly applied conservation approaches. These are often development-based, trying to reduce reliance on bushmeat as a source of income and protein; educational, working through environmental and school education; or cultural, by promoting environmentally friendly habits. By interviewing 348 hunters, 202 bushmeat traders, and 985 bushmeat consumers around Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire, we collected one of the most extensive data sets available for a bushmeat hunting-trading-consumption chain. We tested whether factors related to these strategies affected the likelihood that people choose the taxa primates, duikers (small antelopes), or rodents. Overall, hunters, bushmeat traders and consumers selected these taxa for different purposes. Primates and duikers were preferred by hunters, who relied on the hunting income, whereas consumers and hunters who sought nutritional protein, targeted rodents. Taboos predominantly protected primates, while Muslims and people aware of the environmental consequences of overhunting consumed less of all taxa. Overall, education-, culture-, and development-based interventions may address different taxa and evoke different responses among user groups. Consequently, poor planning in management could waste already scarce resources by targeting erroneous taxa, likely abundant instead of rare species. Remarkably, consumers, in particular, rejected rare species like primates for multiple cultural and educational reasons, which could be promoted to reduce the demand for endangered species. Broadly, our results demonstrate that one-size-fits-all solutions do not exist and campaigns need to be tailored to taxa and user groups of interest.
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