The shocking murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old conservationist
working to protect leatherback sea turtles on the Caribbean coast, Friday May
31, demands immediate justice. The Costa Rican government must respond with
swift action to send a clear message to all sea turtle poachers that their
actions will not be tolerated.
My name is Chris Pincetich and I am in Costa Rica now co-leading a volunteer ecotour to a Caribbean leatherback nesting beach. Illegal killing of turtles and poaching of their eggs is driving leatherbacks to extinction. Without conservationists on beach patrols that reach the nesting females and their nests before the poachers, sea turtles do not stand a chance. The brutal murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval has traumatized the conservation community and threatens the viability of sea turtle ecotourism in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is respected around the world for its history of ocean and environmental conservation and for its peaceful, safe society that supports ecotourism. The sea turtle conservation community is already feeling the shock waves from brave Jairo Mora Sandoval's murder. His courageous hard work continues along hundreds of beaches at projects that rely on international tourists to support nightly beach patrols. Now that human and sea turtle lives are in jeopardy on Costa Rican beaches, the entire ecotourism economy is in jeopardy.
Sea turtle conservation ecotours like the one co-sponsored
by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project bring millions of dollars each year to
the Costa Rican economy. They connect caring individuals with direct action to
preserve innocent marine animals they love. Without swift justice for the heartbreaking
murder of brave Jairo Mora Sandoval, and a parallel crackdown on all illegal
egg poachers (hueveros), the sea turtles and tourists who visit to help them
will be gone forever.