Can hawksbill sea turtles be saved from extinction?

These are some of the measures NGO's like the World Wildlife Fund have taken in cooperation with Latin American governments

hawksbill

The hawksbill is popular and highly known for the craft and jewelry industry, something that is not surprising, since it is a material with striking and particular colors, in addition, it’s resistant and unique. Throughout history, having a hawksbill product represented having a certain status in society, as their purchase was difficult and costly. Nowadays, you can find items such as jewelry, cutlery, eyeglass frames, brushes and many more. Despite the innate beauty of these accessories, there is something that many people who love this material are unaware of or perhaps ignore. The marketing of these products is illegal and is causing the extinction of hawksbill turtles.

These turtles belong to the family Cheloniidae and are found, depending on their age, in the bays or deep waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They are descendants of reptiles that have evolved and existed for more than 100 million years, their role in the correct functioning of marine ecosystems is transcendental, as they feed on toxic species such as sponges, which are the main enemies of the marine corals, helping the conservation of these and seaweed beds. But like most endangered species, hawksbill turtles find themselves in a great battle against human cruelty; the beauty and toughness of its shell, in addition to the high demand of its meat in oriental areas, has stimulated the unscrupulous hunting of turtles. In 1986, hawksbill turtles were declared by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) an endangered species, however, today the situation has gotten worse, placing them under the classification of species in critical danger. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that in 10 years the turtles could disappear from the American Pacific.

Although the future looks bleak, campaigns and strategies for their conservation have become important in recent years. Organizations such as the WWF and governments of countries like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia and some eastern countries, where there is a high percentage of these turtles nesting, have implemented preservation and protection measures such as the application of legal punishments against ilegal marketers, protection of their habitat, satellite tracking, which allows a better understanding of their behavior patterns and the eradication of bycatch. Another measure that has been taken is training the fishing industries and encouraging them to use turtle-friendly fishing hooks.

The solution? Perhaps a mobile app

Within the framework of the Action Plan for the Conservation of Sea Turtles in Latin America and the Caribbean, the WWF developed a mobile application called “Cero Carey". The main objective of this app is to promote the reporting of illegal activities with the hawksbill, such as its marketing and trafficking. The application allows the user too take photos, determine the location where the crime is being committed and share this information with the WWF database. This app also provides information for the conservation of this species. It is free, can be used for all the people, and is available for Android and iOS devices.

 

Latin American Post | Manuela García

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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