A group of conservationists have created 3D printed turtle eggs which contain a GPS tracker.
The idea is set to be launched this fall in the US during the mass nesting when 90% of turtle eggs will be stolen from different beaches. One of the turtles they are aiming to protect is the Hawksbill sea turtles which due to poaching have dropped to just 10% of what they were a century ago.
The people behind the idea are Californian Conservation group Paso Pacífico and the the replicas will easily be mistaken for any of the millions of other eggs buried during the mass nesting. “We want to sneak them into nests that are most vulnerable to poaching,” says Kim Williams-Guillén, director of conservation science at Paso Pacífico. She continued “It would be really easy for them to grab one of those eggs and not even notice it.”
They plans use the data they collect to track the movement of eggs and share the data with law enforcement and activists in a bid to crack down on those involved in the poaching of these endangered creatures.
Kim Williams-Guillén, Director of conservation science at Paso Pacífico says:
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. We’re not planning on collecting data in real time, unless that’s something that they express real interest in. It’s certainly a possibility. 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.
In many cultures Sea turtle eggs are a delicacy eaten in restaurants and they are also sold as an aphrodisiac. It is a massive underground industry with each egg being sold for approximately $5-$20 each and millions of these eggs being stolen each year. This is causing a severe threat to the already endangered turtles.
Sarah Otterstrom, the Project’s founder and director says:
Poaching pressure is extremely intense. There can be thousands of turtles on the beach at night. And if there isn’t protection, the beaches will be poached and without guards, about 90 percent of the nests are poached. 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.
There has been a recent revival in sea turtle populations due to conservation efforts around the globe, but they are still on the endangered list.
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