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Spatial and temporal patterns of harvesting of the Vulnerable pig-nosed turtle Carettochelys insculpta in the Kikori region, Papua New Guinea

  • Carla C. Eisemberg (a1), Mark Rose (a2), Benedict Yaru (a1) and Arthur Georges (a1)

Abstract

Management of wildlife use by communities living a partially traditional lifestyle is usually more successful when the interactions between those communities and the environment are well understood. We mapped the harvest areas for the Vulnerable pig-nosed turtle Carettochelys insculpta for six language-groups in the Kikori region of Papua New Guinea and compared harvest parameters between different areas and language-groups and, when possible, between 1980–1982 and 2007–2009. Spatially, the main influence on harvest method was a tribe's location relative to the turtle's distribution. No small juveniles (< 20 cm straight-line carapace length) were found outside the Kikori delta, which is probably the species’ feeding grounds. In contrast, nesting females were captured only in upstream and coastal sandbank areas. Temporally there were distinct differences in harvesting parameters between tribes, which may be explained by differential employment opportunities. To halt the decline of pig-nosed turtles in the Kikori region we recommend the establishment of beach and feeding-ground protection initiatives, together with monitoring of the turtle population and harvest. Concomitantly, trips specifically targeted at harvesting the turtles, which account for 81% of the animals captured, need to be restricted. These initiatives should include all six language-groups and take into account their specific harvesting patterns.

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Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail eisemberg@aerg.canberra.edu.au

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