This article compares transnational conservation organizations' efforts in Ecuador, Chile, and Peru in order to answer several questions: Why do transnational social movement organizations (TSMOs) engage in the politics of some nations but not others? Do TSMOs shape the policy decisions of less developed nations? What is the relationship between national political opportunity structure and transnational mobilization? Based upon historical data and fieldwork data, I argue that transnational conservationists can most easily affect the policies of politically "open" nations that have active domestic conservation movement organizations. In addition to influencing public policies, transnational conservationists are key actors in the development of private systems of biodiversity protection. Operating according to "lifeboat ethics," TSMOs select nations based on political criteria, while those nations most in need of conservation assistance (biodiversity hotspots) are neglected. This strategy contrasts sharply with strategies used by the transnational human rights movement.

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