EplerWood International is launching an emergency initiative to help conserve endangered sea turtles in El Salvador.
A recent ban on turtle egg collection along the entire coast of El Salvador will help stem the loss of thousands of hatchlings. But turtle collectors face a dramatic loss of income in areas of the country where there is severe poverty, declining fisheries, and polluted waters.Turtle hatcheries are being established nationwide and the EWI team is working urgently with educational and tourism institutions to develop strategies to help replace the lost revenue of the "tortugueros" or young men and women who collect turtle eggs for sale.
Megan Epler Wood and Program Officer, Holly Jones recently visited turtle hatcheries along the coast, and reviewed tourism options for local residents together with local Salvadoran team members, Edgardo Molina and Raul Martinez. Opportunities to view hatchlings of the Leatherback, Olive Ridley, Green and Hawksbill turtles along the coast of El Salvador are excellent. The season for viewing turtle egg laying and hatchlings runs from roughly July through December.
Working with the support of USAID, EWI is collaborating with sea turtle authority, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and his organization SEE Turtles, (www.seeturtles.org). EWI and SEE Turtles are launching a major fundraising initiative in 2009 with the support of the USAID team, to expose well-to-do Salvadoran property owners to the importance of conserving turtles on their properties. They seek to establish a new fund for distribution to local communities and to further develop educational tourism among youth in El Salvador in 2009.