Poachers are the absolute scum of the earth. Conservationists have a new weapon to help fight them: 3D printed turtle eggs with GPS tracking.
Conservationists are using 3D printed sea turtle eggs with GPS trackers to help protect the rare creatures from the threat of poaching.
The silicone shells carrying the GPS tracking devices will be deployed during an arribada, or mass nesting event. During this time, it is expected that up to 90 percent of eggs will be poached from certain beaches.
To try and combat this, these 3D printed turtle eggs were created by Conservation group Paso Pacífico. They can easily pass for the ping pong-sized eggs which are laid and buried every year by endangered sea turtles along the North and Central American coasts.
The group can collect data from the GPS tracking device, and from this information they will create a map of the movement of eggs to help law enforcement officials and activists crack down on poachers.
The Benefit of 3D Printed Turtle Eggs
Kim Williams-Guillén, director of conservation science at Paso Pacífico, reckons they can use the eggs to identify the players with money who are driving the trade. This could have a huge impact.
She said: “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.”
Sea turtle eggs are considered to be an aphrodisiac and delicacy in various cultures, meaning that millions of sea turtle eggs are stolen each year. An egg can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 apiece, which leaves the turtles in threat.
Sarah Otterstrom, the Project’s founder and director, explained that poaching pressure is extremely intense and, with thousands of turtles on the beach at night — without protection — they will be poached.
She added: “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.”
Thankfully, conservation efforts have been making a difference and over the last decade, a revival of the turtle population has occurred with a record number of sea turtle nests reported in the United States this year.
(Source: The Washington Post)
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