Costa Rican Drug Addicts Are Killing Turtles and Conservationists
At the end of last month, Costa Rica witnessed its first turtle conservationist murder. On the evening of the May 30, Jairo Mora Sandoval and four other conservationists were abducted while carrying out their checks on Moin beach near Limon, a city on the east coast of the country. While the four others were tied up and left in a house, Sandoval was beaten to death. His body was found in the early hours, allegedly with sand stuffed in his mouth—a clear message to conservationists that they should keep their mouths shut.
For years, volunteers in Costa Rica have battled against poachers to protect the endangered leatherback, green, and hawksbill turtle species as they move onto the country’s beaches to lay their eggs. And despite beatings, robberies, and threats at gunpoint, the conservationists protecting the dwindling turtle population have struggled on.
Jairo had been working as a beach monitor for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). In the immediate aftermath of his death, WIDECAST suspended projects on the stretch of coast where he was killed. However, in other parts of the country the work carries on undisturbed, with many redoubling their efforts and continuing the work that Jairo gave his life to.