Monday, April 15, 2024

30,000 turtle eggs seized but conservationist says thefts are down

There was a massive seizure of turtle eggs in Oaxaca on Sunday but a conservation group says poaching the eggs has actually declined.

Federal agents arrested five men after a routine inspection on the Huatulco-Salina Cruz highway revealed they were carrying 30,000 olive ridley sea turtle eggs.

The men said they were on their way to the port city of Salina Cruz, where they hoped to sell their illegal cargo.

The olive ridley turtle, known in Mexico as tortuga golfina, is a protected species that arrives in the thousands every year to lay eggs on the beaches of the Pacific coast.

Although poachers steal the eggs from the nests every year, conservation and anti-poaching efforts have been successful in the eyes of a member of the Escobilla sea turtle sanctuary cooperative.

Pedro Ramírez told Dolores Barrientos Alemán, Mexico representative of the United Nations Environment Program, that there are fewer buyers of the eggs in local markets.

“Before, a single buyer could go and sell 700,000 eggs but not now,” said Ramírez. As demand for the illegal delicacy has dropped, he explained, poachers take only 1,000 or 2,000 eggs when the turtles begin to arrive.

Poaching is often suspended after the first night because they still have eggs at home that they were unable to sell.

Ramírez also told the UN representative that he has seen an increase in the numbers of turtles arriving to lay their eggs.

He claimed that Escobilla beach had become the most important spawning area in the world, receiving up to 100,000 specimens of ridley, green and leatherback sea turtles per night.

“It is the No. 1 beach. Before it was in Costa Rica, but this beach has gone up over the last six years.”

Source: Azteca Noticias (sp), Noticias de Oaxaca (sp)

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