Laura Exley, a Writtle University College Animal Science graduate, has launched a trail-blazing new conservation scheme in Costa Rica. Non-profit project Comunidad Protectora De Tortugas De Osa (COPROT) aims to conserve the sea turtle nesting population with the help of the local community.
Set on the Southern Pacific beaches on the Osa Peninsula in Carate, COPROT is located right next to the world-renowned Corcovado National Park. It protects 7.5 kilometres of beach and collects data primarily on nesting Olive Ridleys and Pacific Greens. On rare occasions, Leatherbacks are also seen in the area.
In February 2020, we welcomed Laura back to WUC, to address current Animal Science and Animal Management students. Laura explained how she aims to support both the wildlife and people of Carate: "The lack of opportunities in the area, result in some community members undertaking environmentally damaging activities in order to sustain themselves, namely gold-mining inside the National Park, sea turtle egg poaching and hunting of wildlife.
"COPROT is providing a solution to these issues by integrating members of the gold-mining community and low-income families into conservation, and building the project to the point where we are able to provide salaried positions and stop the cycle of environmental damage and poverty while simultaneously conserving vulnerable sea turtle populations."
The nearby beaches of Carate, Rio Oro, and La Leona on the Osa Peninsula are some of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the South Pacific. Each beach is close to 2.5 kilometers with approximately 4,000 nests laid by the Olive Ridley (classified 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN) and Pacific Green (classified as endangered by the IUCN) sea turtles. Prior to the opening of COPROT, up to 25% of nests were lost per due to high levels of poaching and predation on turtle nests in the area. This number is now reducing.
To learn more about COPROT's work, visit https://tortugasdeosa.org/