On Thursday, May 30, Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old conservationist, was kidnapped by sea turtle poachers. The next morning, his body was found on the beach where he had worked to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles. The Costa Rican government must respond to this shocking murder with swift action that sends 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 future of sea turtle ecotourism in Costa Rica.
Jairo had asked for protection and action from local authorities to stop the poaching, but it didn't work. We're asking the Costa Rican government to respond to his murder by committing police protection to the beaches where there have been threats and significant poaching levels to make these areas safe for sea turtles, conservationists and ecotourists. To ensure transparency and reassure the tourist community, the federal government should take over the investigation and ensure Jairo's killers are swiftly brought to justice.
Costa Rica’s economy rests on its reputation as a mecca for ecotourism, protection of the environment and its reputation as a safe haven for American and other international tourists. Ecotours, like the one co-sponsored by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, bring millions of dollars each year to the Costa Rican economy. That's why the Costa Rican government needs to act decisively and swiftly to bring justice for Jairo Mora Sandoval, so that its economy and ecology can be protected.
Please sign the petition and let the Costa Rican government know that the whole world is watching and hoping for justice so that Costa Rica can earn back its peaceful reputation.
This is the moment when the Costa Rican government's response will either send a message that they want to protect their citizens, visitors, and wildlife, or that poachers are welcome to rule their beaches.