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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

‘Turtle Whisperer’ Turns Poachers Into Allies

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: endangered species, sea turtles, eastern Pacific hawksbill, marine biology, wildlife, oceans, environment, Conservation magazine, Keith Goetzman, Keith Goetzman,

Eastern Pacific hawksbill sea turtle

A conservationist working to save endangered sea turtles is taking a counterintuitive approach—he’s befriending the poachers. Alexander Gaos, dubbed “the turtle whisperer” in Conservation magazine, has found 500 new eastern Pacific hawksbill turtle nesting sites in El Salvador and Nicaragua by forging ties, and trust, with the local fishermen who know the terrain better than anyone else.

He tells Conservation:

Sometimes cash is part of the equation. In Nicaragua, Gaos’ conservation organization, the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, is paying a fishing cooperative $40 for every nest sight its members protect.

Gaos explains why he makes the effort to work with poachers and fishermen:

Source: Conservation 

Image by chucklepix (Steve), licensed under Creative Commons.