In 2002, the government of Mexico authorized a project aimed at saving the Mexican tarantula from the damage inflicted on the species by poachers.
The project was started by Rodrigo Orozco, a Guadalajara resident who used to live in jungle areas of Mexico where he “got to know and love” a multitude of creatures, including spiders and tarantulas.
“I noticed that everywhere I went, I could find tarantulas for sale in markets and pet stores, and I imagined they were all coming from tarantula farms,” Orozco said in a recent interview. “But I couldn’t figure out how they were able to produce so many mature tarantulas because these creatures grow very, very slowly. A female only reaches sexual maturity after ten years and it would take 20 years for her babies to reach the size I was seeing in all those shops. So I wondered just where all the tarantulas were coming from.”
Intrigued, Orozco asked the man in charge of his local office of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) where he might find one of these tarantula farms.
To Orozco’s surprise, the official replied: “Oh, those tarantulas. Todas son illegales (they’re all illegal). They were taken from the wild … there are no tarantula farms.”
Orozco was a bold young man and he remonstrated with the official, explaining that “if you take one tarantula out of the wild, it’s going to take 20 to 40 years before you’ll ever find another tarantula there, because they are very slow-growing. The damage would be irreparable.”
Orozco walked out of the SEMARNAT office totally disheartened.