May 22, 2015

Why Are Amazon River Turtles Important?

May 23rd is World Turtle Day, which made us wonder why these creatures are at such a risk and why they are so important. Of course they are important as a living being, but what makes turtles so special, especially the ones closer to us in the Amazon?

According to SELVA International, about 42% of all turtles are threatened with extinction! There is a great movement to help sea turtles, but freshwater turtles are at risk, too. SELVA International says,
Turtles play important roles in nutrient cycling; they are important dispersers of seeds in riverine forests, and they are sources of food for other animals. Their extinction could cause the environment to degrade in serious ways we cannot predict.
The Giant Amazon River Turtle used to be found in the thousands in the Amazon, but now they are a rare sighting and continue to be hunted! River turtles are also affected by climate change with nests being flooded before the turtles have a chance to hatch.

SELVA International works specifically in Bolivia to educate both local people and the world about the importance of saving the turtle population.

Photo Credit: eliduke via Compfight cc