the Critically Endangered Giant Amazon Turtle
is SELVA helping turtles and indigenous communities?
SELVA is helping indigenous communities in Bolivia implement a community
turtle research and conservation project in Noel Kempff Mercado National
Park (PNNKM), a UNESCO World Heritage site in a subsistence-based
region of the Amazon. The project's goal is to conserve rapidly declining
giant Amazon river turtles and to research the threats they face.
The species we work with are the yellow spotted Amazon river turtle
( Pococnemis unifilis ) and the giant South American river turtle
( Podocnemis expansa ), the largest freshwater turtle in the western
hemisphere, which reaches one meter in length. Both these species
were once abundant throughout the Amazon and Orinoco Basins, but
recent recommendations by IUCN scientists recommend these species
be listed as endangered (very high list of extinction in the wild)
and critically endangered (extremely high risk
of extinction in the wild) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
This project is unique in that it was initiated as a collaboration
of local communities and the national park , because local people
noticed that turtles are disappearing. In 2003, SELVA scientists
were invited to participate as scientific advisors to the project.
In 2005-2006, SELVA helped project managers research local turtle
populations and their threats. We documented serious decline caused
by local human activities, especially hunting of large female turtles.
SELVA is now helping local managers design a
science-based, community-managed turtle conservation plan. The plan
will include limits placed on turtle hunting, so that only indigenous
people can exploit turtles for subsistence use, in a regulated manner
that allows for turtle recovery. The plan will include scientific monitoring
of turtle populations and exploration of alternatives to turtle meat.
Our goal is to continue collaboration on this project in PNNKM and
then to help expand its reach to other areas of South America
• Noel Kempff Mercado National Park (Bolivia)
communities of the Bajo Paraguá (Bolivia)
• Turtle Conservation Fund
• Servicio Nacional de Áreas
Protegidas (SERNAP) (Bolivian National Park Service)
• Fulbright (USA)
• The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation (USA)
• Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia (USA)
• Fundación Noel Kempff Mercado (Bolivian NGO)
More about the critically endangered
Giant Amazon River Turtle:
care about turtles?
is saving turtles beneficial to people?
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