Demonstrating decline of an iconic species under sustained indigenous harvest -- the pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta) in Papua New Guinea.

Carla Eisemberg, Mark Rose, Benedict Yaru, Arthur Georges

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    Papua New Guinea has astonishing biological and cultural diversity which, coupled with a strong community reliance on the land and its biota for subsistence, add complexity to monitoring and conservation and in particular, the demonstration of declines in wildlife populations. Many species of concern are long-lived which provides additional challenges for conservation. We provide, for the first time, concrete evidence of a substantive decline in populations of the pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta); an important source of protein for local communities. Our study combined matched village and market surveys separated by 30 years, trends in nesting female size, and assessment of levels and efficacy of harvest, each of which was an essential ingredient to making a definitive assessment of population trends. Opportunities for an effective response by local communities to these declines needs to consider both conservation and fisheries perspectives because local communities consider the turtle a food resource, whereas the broader global community views it as a high priority for conservation. Our study in the Kikori region is representative of harvest regimes in most rivers within the range of the species in Papua New Guinea, and provides lessons for conservation of many other wildlife species subject to harves
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2282-2288
    Number of pages7
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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