From: Helen Roddis, , More from this Affiliate
Published July 12, 2011 08:49 AM

In the News: Pig-nosed turtle populations in decline

Pig-nosed turtle numbers have plummeted dramatically in the past 30 years, according to new research published in the journal Biological Conservation.

A unique reptile, the pig-nosed turtle has become an international conservation icon due to its unusual evolutionary history, morphology, ecology and behaviour.


The sole survivor of a once widespread family of turtles called the Carettochelyidae, the pig-nosed turtle has a restricted global distribution, being only found in north Australia and New Guinea Island.

However, despite its uniqueness, this species is highly prized as food, and the demand for its eggs and meat in Papua New Guinea has led to the species being dramatically over-harvested by indigenous people. Both turtle and eggs are collected for trade or consumption by local villagers.

To find out what impact such harvesting may be having on the turtle, Professor Carla Eisemberg of the University of Canberra, Australia, surveyed the numbers of eggs and adult turtles nesting in the Kikori region of Papua New Guinea. The number of turtles and eggs passing through local markets were also studied, as well as the consumption of turtles in villages along rivers and the coast.

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