Conservation International has reported that 26-year-old turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval was abducted and shot by masked men whilst on his way to patrol the beach of Moin, Costa Rica. Jairo was accompanied by 4 foreign volunteers who were also abducted but later released without further harm. The purpose of their patrol was to protect leatherback turtle nests from poachers.
Jairo had recently reported on the apparent connections between the illegal sea egg turtle trade and other illegal activities like the drug trade. It is widely reported that there is “intimidation of or collusion by police and judicial officials to minimize action against poachers and drug runners.”
The project at Moin Beach has been closed down to ensure the safety of the staff, which may have been intention of the killers.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jario’s family and colleagues at what must be a very difficult time. He died “in the line of duty” protecting Costa Rica’s precious natural resources and we hope that this tragedy brings about a concerted response from the authorities to not only apprehend his killers, but also to protect the creatures that he gave his life defending. (Leatherback turtle image from Shutterstock.)