Market integration, perceived wealth and household consumption of river turtles (Podocnemis spp.) in eastern lowland Bolivia

Written records indicate that humans in the Bolivian Amazon have utilized Podocnemis river turtles in their diets since at least the 16th century, resulting in their decline. This study examines the potential effects of market pressures and the perception of wealth on human consumption patterns of Podocnemis unifilis and P. expansa. The hypotheses tested were: 1) there is greater market consumption of turtle protein closer to market and greater subsistence consumption of turtle protein farther away; 2) there is a negative relationship between wealth and turtle protein sale/trade such that as personal wealth increases, the consumption of turtle protein decreases. Findings suggest proximity to market does not lead to greater turtle consumption and the relationship between turtle consumption and perception of wealth is negative. The fi ndings also suggest that improved roads into communities may reduce pressure on the turtles; poorest households pose the greatest risks to turtle abundance; and culturally-specific attitudes must be addressed for effective turtle conservation and management.