Turtle Tolls

Sodwana Bay Turtles

On 1 June 2013 – an environmentalist campaigning for the protection of endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica was found dead in a suspected killing by smugglers.

Jairo Mora was reportedly found face down with his hands tied on Moin beach, 170km (105 miles) east of the capital, San Jose.Vanessa Lizano, the owner of the turtle sanctuary where Mr Mora worked, said he had been killed because of his work.Sea-turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.Ms Lizano told the BBC: “Jairo went on patrol with some volunteers and they were attacked by armed men.”It was him they wanted, because he was the one who was always looking after the nests.”Ms Lizano said that poachers in Costa Rica can make up to $300 (£200) per day smuggling turtle eggs in the black market.She said they had received many threats over the years because of their work at the sanctuary.

“Jaim could walk 20km each night to save nests,”.”It’s not possible that citizens who protect nature have to suffer from this type of attacks.”The Costa Rican authorities said they were investigating the death.Central America once supported populations of sea turtles in their thousands, but they have been in decline, partly because of widespread poaching for their meat, eggs and shells.In addition to national legislation in Costa Rica, sea turtles are protected under many international treaties.

I can provide 100s of turtle stories from across the world with the same general meaning. I have realized that it’s time to go beyond the tales of slaughter. We all know it’s happening. The question now is- how do we change it?

Then I saw a press release-

On 9 June Captain Paul Watson offered  $30,000 for the arrest and conviction of the assassins of Costa Rican Turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval who was recently murdered by narco- trafficking turtle egg poachers at Playa Moín on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Jairo was kidnapped, beaten, and shot in the head by turtle poachers armed with AK-47 rifles.

Costa Rican authorities told Captain Watson last year that he should not be concerned about the $25,000 bounty that shark poachers have offered for his own head. The murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval is sufficient evidence that Captain Watson’s life would be in extreme danger if he were to be extradited to Costa Rica.

“The shark poachers and the turtle poachers are a law onto themselves in Costa Rica and the government does nothing because there is a demand for both shark fins and turtle eggs in China and Costa Rica does what China and Japan tell them to do.” Said Captain Watson. On top of that drug lords are now offering weapons and drugs to the poachers, instructing them to keep conservationists off the beaches. This way the drug traffickers are not being hindered. The drug cartels are becoming more influential in Costa Rica and they are more and more using fishermen (to bring them cheap fuel and smuggle drugs in shark bodies) and poachers (replacing the turtle eggs with drugs) to help their illegal activities, said Captain Watson.

“They were quick to respond to Japan to issue a warrant for my arrest for protecting sharks from an incident in 2002 yet when it comes to this horrific murder of a compassionate conservationist, the government does nothing,” he said.

“It seems to me that if the government spent the same amount of time pursuing violent poachers and fighting drug cartels as they do pursuing non-violent conservationists, they might regain the trust of the conservation community worldwide, a trust they pretend to have but do not.”

As a final word- I find it totally crazy that the government of Costa Rica is not offering a reward for the murderer, so super crazy that a private individual has to do this.


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