Sea turtles are threatened with extinction and the international trade of sea turtle products is restricted global export laws.
But in Central America, sea turtle eggs are still being trafficked at the regional level and yet, little is known about the transit routes and final destinations of these restricted wildlife products.
The financial incentive is overwhelming, as a single turtle egg can command $100-300 USD on the international market. Now a California company has come up with an innovative way to track where poachers are getting the eggs.
The company is using 3D prints with flexible plastic with some silicon added on the inside. They’re sealed up, sanded and painted and ergo, an egg.
Artificial sea turtle eggs housing tracking devices will be placed in nests that are at high risk for poaching.
After the natural and artificial eggs are extracted from a nest, their movements will be monitored and mapped. Identifying major transit routes for sea turtle eggs will provide vital information to government authorities and civil society for combating the illegal egg trade.
These artificial eggs will be placed in nests that are at high risk to poaching.
The artificial eggs were developed by Paso Pacifico, a non-profit in California which won a prize in 2017 as part of U.S. government’s quest to find innovative ways to fight wildlife crime using technology.
The artificial eggs, named the InvestEGGator, won the $100,000 prize and is attempting to turn the tides on the extinction of sea turtles.
Sea turtles have swum the earth’s oceans for over 100 million years, but now this ancient lineage is in danger of disappearing forever. Six of the seven extant species of sea turtles are threatened with extinction and one of the greatest threats come from poaching.
Adults are killed for meat and their shells, and their nests are destroyed for the eggs, considered a delicacy and aphrodisiac in many regions.
Sea turtle products are the second most most frequently trafficked wildlife products smuggled from Latin America to the United States with most seized items originating in Mexico or Central America. Eggs are one quarter of the illegal imports.