Mexican officials recently announced they will be using drones to help curb the illegal poaching of protected turtles and their eggs on popular nesting beaches.
Olive ridley sea turtles flood to La Escobilla and Morro Ayuta beaches in Oaxaca state to make nests and lay their eggs. But with an estimated 0.02 to 0.2% of the 10,000 hatched turtles on the beaches actually reaching maturity, new measures are being put in place to stop the threat of poaching.
The threat doesn’t solely come from humans, as the eggs and hatchlings are also picked off by birds, dogs and crabs. However, the main focus of the new plan is to deter locals from stealing the eggs and either eating or selling them.
Conservation of the beaches is imposed by Mexico's environmental police (PROFEPA), the Marines and pressure from the local community. Local educational center Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga, or Mexican Turtle Center, has been managing Morro Ayuta since the poaching of sea turtles was outlawed 20 years ago. The center partnered up with the Mexican Navy, who until recently patrolled the popular nesting beaches all year long – not just in the nesting season – but due to redeployment of forces, a new approach was required to monitor the beaches and act as a deterrent. Local environmental activists believe there was a loss of up to 80% of eggs since the marines left.
Due to this, PROFEPA has reportedly been flying two drones to scour the stretches of sand in an attempt to ward off poachers and protect the thousands of turtle eggs.
[H/T: Global News]