Still no justice for young conservationist killed by turtle poachers in Costa Rica

Reward poster
© SeaTurtles.org

Petition demanding action from authorities has over 100k signatures

Less than 2 weeks ago, Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old conservationist, along with four female volunteers - three from the United States and one from Spain - were patrolling Moín Beach in Costa Rica to protect endangered leatherback turtles. The group was attacked by at least 5 masked men carrying guns. The international volunteers were robbed and left at an abandoned house, but the masked men kept Jairo.

He was bound, beaten, and killed. His body was found on the beach the next day.

Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Environmentalist Jairo Mora Sandoval on the beach with fellow WIDECAST volunteers.

The local poachers obviously didn't like the patrols; it wasn't the first time that they threatened conservationists, apparently going as far as pointing AK-47s at them.

A petition at Change.org has been created to put pressure on the Costa Rican authorities to actually do something about this (they had been asked for protection and didn't do anything, and they're not doing enough to fight poaching), as well as a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killers.

© SeaTurtles.org

Here's a message by the petition's author:

My name is Chris Pincetich and I am in Costa Rica now co-leading a volunteer ecotour to a Caribbean leatherback nesting beach. Illegal killing of turtles and poaching of their eggs is driving leatherbacks to extinction. Without conservationists on beach patrols that reach the nesting females and their nests before the poachers, sea turtles do not stand a chance. The brutal murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval has traumatized the conservation community and threatens the future of sea turtle ecotourism in Costa Rica.

Jairo had asked for protection and action from local authorities to stop the poaching, but it didn't work. We're asking the Costa Rican government to respond to his murder by committing police protection to the beaches where there have been threats and significant poaching levels to make these areas safe for sea turtles, conservationists and ecotourists. To ensure transparency and reassure the tourist community, the federal government should take over the investigation and ensure Jairo's killers are swiftly brought to justice.

Costa Rica’s economy rests on its reputation as a mecca for ecotourism, protection of the environment and its reputation as a safe haven for American and other international tourists.

You can sign the petition here: Justice for Jairo, who was murdered by poachers for protecting sea turtles.

If you want to show your support by donating, there's a memorial fund to help his family, and a reward fund to try to get information that could help get justice for his murder.

Update: Reward fund for information on Jairo Mora Sandoval's murder now $56,000

See also: Light pollution along coastal areas prevents sea turtles from nesting

Tags: Conservation | Costa Rica