Mario Vargas Ramirez
MSc. student, University of Amsterdam
Location: Puerto del Medio, Girardot and Cienaga del Congo, Colombia
Research: The interdependence between biological and cultural diversity: The case of a threatened endemic freshwater turtle in Colombia
Species/Topic: Podocnemis lewyana
Abstract: Podocnemis lewyana, is a fresh-water endemic turtle species from Colombia. It is considered endangered in the IUCN red list and Appendix-II of the CITES convention. Persecuted for its meet, eggs and juveniles; has been hunted for traditional use and commercialization for years. Highly wished for its body and nest size, P. lewyana'sdistribution range matches with poor fishermen's villages. In Colombia, policy and theoretical actions designed to protect endangered species are general and hardly ever developed locally. In practice their application affects negatively socio-cultural practices, local livelihoods and economic interest. Ideas and solutions from a multidisciplinary ground, where scientific research could support socio-cultural initiatives and needs and vice versa must be looked for. This project aims at examining these problems and at gathering basic biological and socio-cultural information in order to develop new tools and design a scenario for a further research and implementation of a community-based conservation initiative at three localities.