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Reptiles as a food resource

Reptiles have served as an important source of protein for human populations around the world. Exploitation for food is heaviest in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, but also occurs in temperate areas. Of all reptiles, turtles are the most heavily exploited for human consumption. High, unsustainable levels of exploitation for food are directly responsible for the precarious conservation status of many turtles. Crocodilians, snakes, and lizards may be locally important food sources, however, with the exception of a few lizard species, they are exploited in a less intense and generally non-commercial manner for human consumption. In comparison, the commercial skin trade poses a far greater threat to the survival of crocodilians as well as certain large snakes and lizards. Recent field reports have implicated the south east Asian medicinal trade as a growing threat to reptiles, especially turtles and snakes. There are few unequivocal examples of managed harvest programmes for reptiles that are economically and culturally viable, as well as biologically sustainable. Given the economic importance of reptiles as sources of protein and other highly valued commodities, it is imperative that more attention be focused on the development of sustainable use programmes for these species.

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Klemens, M.W., Thorbjarnarson, J.B. Reptiles as a food resource. Biodivers Conserv 4, 281–298 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00055974

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Keywords

  • sustainable use of reptiles
  • turtles as food for humans
  • crocodilians as food for humans
  • snakes as food for humans
  • lizards as food for humans