On many Central American Beaches, poachers destroy more than 90% of sea turtle nests to sell eggs through the illegal wildlife trade. Scientists are going undercover to save endangered baby sea turtles to dismantle egg trafficking locally and internationally.
How will they do it?
They are placing 3D printed lookalike sea turtle eggs into nests on the beach with a GPS tracker to gather key information needed to expose the illegal trade of eggs.
Research shows that the 3D printed eggs don't damage the existing embryos and that they work! They have even been able to track an entire trade chain from beach to end consumer for about 137 kilometers.
These sneaky InvestEggators were developed by the conservation organisation Paso Pacifico, to identify the players in the illegal trade of endangered sea turtles that occurs in Central America.
They were placed in 101 turtle nests on four beaches, a quarter of the fake eggs were taken illegally, allowing researching to track them to residential properties, bars and supermarkets.
Someone discovered the fake eggs and provided information on where the egg was purchased and how many eggs had been exchanged. The is so important towards the end goal.
Why do people smuggle sea turtle eggs?
Like me, you're probably wondering why someone would want to smuggle a sea turtle egg?! Do they want a pet sea turtle? No, they are actually sold to restaurants and bars to be served as a delicacy. Heartbreaking I know.
Spread the word...
This project uses technology to fight wildlife poaching, inspired by the TV show 'Breaking Bad', and 'The Wire'. They hope to combine their research with awareness and law enforcement to combat the illegal trade of endangered Sea Turtle eggs!
Share with your friends so this technology can be used in conservation efforts near you!
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The GFZ team xx