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The Turtle/People Connection

How is saving turtles beneficial to people?

Indigenous people still live subsistence based lives, which means they depend on fishing and hunting to feed their families. Local Amazonian peoples have historically depended on turtles as an important protein source, and turtles have become integral components of their cultures. This is why local communities started the turtle conservation project- to protect an important natural resource that they depend on. This project works to stop commercialization of turtles, while allowing regulated use for subsistence-based people. When wildlife populations decline, Amazonian people lose their livelihoods. Therefore, supporting indigenous conservation efforts is a good way to protect not only the environment, but the people that live there!

In addition to resource benefits, this project brings paid jobs for local people. Jobs are hard to come by in this part of the world, so turtle conservation is valued by local people as a source of income. All project researchers and employees are from local communities. The project director is Lisandro Saucedo Mendia (see photo with turtle), the head authority of the community of Porvenir, who was a PNNKM park guard who led turtle conservation programs for over 10 years. Each year up to 14 people are hired to work as turtle researchers. Other community members have been hired to conduct social research and to lead the conservation education project.

 

Turtle conservation supports science education!

Students from three local communities have participated in the science/environmental education component of this project, which is a collaboration with community schools. Students participate for a full semester; they learn about conservation issues, turtle ecology, turtle conservation, and the scientific method. The most exciting part of the program is that students conduct a portion of the real research effort. They collect and analyze data about local turtle consumption and then present the results to their communities and park authorities. This project is the first opportunity these children have ever had to learn about and conduct scientific research. This has been one of the most popular aspects of the project, and it is a great source of pride for local schools and families.

 

More about the critically endangered Giant Amazon River Turtle:

Why care about turtles?

How is SELVA helping turtles and indigenous communities?

How can I help save turtles and support indigenous communities?

 

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