THE eighth turtle festival will be happening this weekend at Caiman House in Yupukari Village. Since 2011, Yupukari village and the Caiman House Field Station in the Rupununi, have been the base for a community led turtle monitoring project. The goal of the project is to celebrate, sensitize and promote turtle conservation with community members.
The project focuses on two species of river turtles which are prized for their meat and eggs by local people. The giant river turtle (Podocnemis expansa) and the yellow spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) are ecologically and culturally important to the Makushi and Wapishana.
Over the past 8 years, the Yupukari turtle project has head started, marked and introduced over 1240 yellow spotted turtles to the local environment. The field station continues to receive great support from WWF Guianas, Iwokrama International Centre and other conservation agencies to build on work they do in the Rupununi and Rewa River.
The 8th turtle festival which take place on April 13 and 14 will provide local youths and wildlife club members from 12 riverine communities with the opportunity to understand the importance of resource management, scientific techniques of turtle research, to affirm the importance of turtles in Indigenous culture, and exchange local traditional knowledge in a fun and interactive manner. It is hoped that this will lead the way for the development of long term, community-based management plan for the species in the North Rupununi.
World Widelife Fund (WWF) Guianas – Guyana Office Community Engagement Expert, Patricia Fedricks and Communications Consultant, Dionne Cush- Barnwell will be at the Festival to interact with the youths and handover some educational resource materials.