The Turtle Conservancy recently traveled to the Peruvian Amazon, guided by one of our strongest allies, The Rainforest Trust. Rainforest Trust leaders, Drs. John Mitchell and Paul Salaman, have been ardent fighters for the protection of turtles and tortoises, from South Africa to Mexico. Meetings in Peru covered new ways in which the two organizations can partner to identify, purchase and maintain wild habitat for turtles, tortoises and thousands of other creatures.
A big effort was made to be sure to include indigenous people in the conservation effort. As the team saw in Peru, locals rely on bushmeat, including the Yellow-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata). They have relied on these animals for thousands of years and have a vested interest in maintaining wild populations to support their sustainable harvests. Although consumption of wild animals may not be ideal, it is a great tool to learn more about local cultures and how to work within their customs for the betterment of the species as a whole. Both organizations have worked with local people in places like Africa by providing conservation employment, infrastructure projects, ecotourism and education. Only by lifting people out of poverty through education and economics can we begin to save this planet.