Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another week in the life of a turtle conservation officer from Patricia...

Many of you reading this will have seen the local SBC news report of turtle poaching on our beautiful beaches here in Seychelles. I fear that these 2 incidents are sadly only the tip of the iceberg.

As previously posted we have stepped up our patrols, firmly believing that a physical presence on the beaches will actually deter poachers. This was proved to be so, as on Tuesday of this past week we were unable to do the beach patrols and guess what?? It was on that very day a turtle or turtles were slaughtered on one of our small beaches. We discovered the evidence on our regular patrol the following afternoon. The killing site was above the high water mark and was already beginning to smell pretty bad.

Turtle nesting site frequented by tourist and poachers alike, photo Marcel Mathiot

Once again with heavy heart we phoned Elke and the Ministry of Environment was notified. This beautiful little beach is along the route of a rugged ramble much favoured by those tourists interested in the environment and conservation. During that week several groups of tourists visited it including a party from the Alamanda Resort. Sadly the stench of dead turtle pervaded the air until the weekend.
Plastron from dead turtle washed ashore, photo Marcel Mathiot

On the Saturday a turtle Plastron from a recently killed turtle was thrown up on to the beach by the receding tide and as we photographed it for the record, we became aware that we were being observed by a small group of tourists. It is sad to see that as the poachers get bolder; the tourists become more aware of the problem, their illusions of paradise shattered. This certainly is not good for our Eco Tourism image.

However all is not doom and gloom. There are many of us who strive to make the beaches safe for nesting turtles, from MCSS and Turtle Chick Elke, all the Volunteer Conservation Officers and other interested adults, to the children.

The neighbourhood children are a joy. They are quick to learn and keen to help, observant and an endless source of information. Of course all this may have something to do with the pocket full of ‘reward sweets’ that Marcel seems always to have, but I don’t think so. They just love the turtles and take the task of saving them very seriously.

Neighbourhood children learning about turtles, photo Elke Talma

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