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FEATURE

Protectors, Not Poachers





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By Britta Peterson & Greg Reitman

One of the world’s greatest treasures, sea turtles, is threatened by extinction. With the continued rise of poverty and lack of food resources, egg poaching has become a mainstream commodity and a means for survival. This man-made epidemic has been on the rise for decades, and is most prominent along the beaches of Nicaragua’s Pacific Slop. Poachers, viewed like pirates, roam the coastline depleting sea turtle eggs to make a quick dollar.

This year I had the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative where I learned of this epidemic by the non-profit organization, Paso Pacifico. Paso Pacifico’s mission is to restore and conserve the natural ecosystems of Central America’s Pacific slope by collaborating with landowners, local communities and involved organizations to promote ecosystem conservation.


Paso Pacifico’s main obstacle has been dealing with the local community’s mentality that poaching eggs is an acceptable practice. With the continued lack of infrastructure and regulations, poaching, commonly found among drug-induced men, has become a common way of doing business. With the increasingly threat of extinction to sea turtles along the Pacific Coast, Paso Pacifico directly combats the poaching system by implementing a local Nicaragua community program led by women. These women congregate on seacoasts battling against the poachers protecting the nests through a performance-based incentive program. For every sea turtle that successfully hatches, a payment is received. To date, the program has already paid thousands of dollars to the local people as a reward for their conservation efforts. Additionally, the women provide a financial incentive to the men poachers in exchange for allowing the eggs to hatch. Continued...


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