3D printed turtle eggs to catch poachers

Conservationists plan to deploy the eggs this fall in Central America when the arribada or mass nesting occurs. 

Sea turtle nesting season is in full swing, thousands of female turtles will land and lay their eggs. In La Flor Wildlife Refugee in the Paso del Istmo in Nicaragua they are expecting between 5,000 to 30,000 turtles to nest.

Millions of eggs are stolen each year and sold from $5 to $20 dollars each, they are considered as a delicacy and aphrodisiac in many cultures.

Paso Pacifico, a conservation  group working in the area created 3D printed eggs to help the authorities catch wildlife poachers. They contain GPS trackers to create a tracking map on the movement of the eggs and capture the people involved in poaching.

The 3D printed eggs can be easily mistaken for real eggs laid along North and Central America. They are set to be deployed during the arribada season when about 90% of the eggs are poached.

Kim Williams-Guillén, director of conservation science at Paso Pacifico said to Digital Journal:

"We want to sneak them into nests that are most vulnerable to poaching. It would be really easy for them to grab one of those eggs and not even notice it. Being able to determine the players with money who are really driving the trade and removing even a couple of them could have a huge effect."

Meanwhile Sarah Otterstrom, the project founder said, "The fake egg is a way to shift the focus away from the poachers - who make between 50 cents and $2 per dozen eggs in Nicaragua."

All 7 species of sea turtles are at risk of poaching and illegal trade for their meat, eggs or shell. Conservation efforts in the last years, have caused a revival of sea turtle population and a record number of sea turtles in south eastern United States in 2016. 

 

LatinAmerican Post | Maria Andrea Marquez

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