Director Ana Maria Vasquez reports that we have successfully expanded our Turtle Preservation Program’s capacity from 150 to 250 nests. Our program pays local people to preserve and protect the nest sites and aid turtles to reach the sea. The money allows local people to replace the turtle eggs, a staple of the local diet, with chicken eggs so an important food source is not lost.
Each nest in the program releases 100-150 baby turtles into the wild, of which only one or two will survive to maturity to return and breed on the beach at Jaque. For only $20, you can receive a BAB certificate of adoption for a nest, along with an attached tagua (vegetable ivory) carved turtle, while helping to ensure this program’s continued growth. Better yet you can come to Jaque on an OLI tip and see for yourself the work being done to protect this amazing animal. You might even get to release newly hatched babies.
Jaque, a town of 2,000, is only reached by air or sea. Valencia and his allies built a hatchery here shaded by wood and wire. Inside, they place the eggs in baskets where they’ll hatch in two months’ time. Then the baby turtles will be released to the sea.
While the government contributed toward building the hatchery, the patrols are strictly a community volunteer effort by Valencia, who is the pastor of a local evangelical church, and his colleagues. The patrols are carried out during the May to December nesting season, which peaks in September, October and November.
They built the hatchery near a border police station where agents try to prevent poaching and protect the volunteers on their nightly collections. The volunteers often walk far into the night, so they prefer to go with agents of the National Borders Service in case they run into thieves or smugglers.