Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

-- The Caribbean National Park of Tortuguero is gearing up yet again as the nesting season of the endangered green sea turtles has just kicked off. Already 13 poachers have been detained and more than 600 stolen turtle eggs and five adult carcasses have been confiscated.

Tortuguero's 34 km of uninterrupted beach area is one of the most important nesting ground for the green turtles. However, due to the long stretch of the beach, it is very difficult to man the area efficiently, with the result that thousands of these ancient reptiles are slaughtered every year under the nose of the rangers. However, government efforts to book poachers has increased since the change of administration last year. According to Roxana Silva of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation ( ccc ), "there has been a notable change in the attitude of the new governments.

The Park's meagre staff of only five rangers has been raised to 25. In addition, the coast guards will also be available to support the rangers in the nesting season. The result of all these steps are evident in the ccc figures which reveal that the death toll has dropped to 300 as compared to last year when around 1,800 turtles were reported to have been slaughtered. The green turtle is one of seven species of sea turtles found in Costa Rican waters that is hunted for its meat, which is considered a delicacy.

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