A quarter of fake eggs laid among the nests of 101 turtles on Costa Rica’s four beaches were stolen, with some eggs successfully tracked as they were carried from thief to consumer.
The Investigator dubbed egg decay was developed by the conservation organization Paso Pacifico, which sees illegal raiding of eggs from nests buried in sand for smuggling and sale as a fragility for restaurants, bars and individuals Was.
According to a study published in Current Biology, researchers found that decoys do not harm the fetus and can successfully track trafficking in green and olive turtle eggs and identify trafficking routes.
Early evidence suggests that eggs do not move far from the beaches where they are hatched. One of the simulated eggs was moved closer to a nearby residential property, the other traveled 2 km at once, while the farthest journey was 137 km inland, spending two days in transit.
In one case, the discovery of transmitter-eggs led to useful intelligence. Eleven days after the caries stopped responding at the city’s carriere, 43 km from the beach, the researchers obtained photographs, which were sent from the carriages of dissected eggs. They also found evidence as to where the egg was purchased and how much was exchanged – useful intelligence for local officials to protect the egg.
Helen Feissy of the University of Kent and lead author of the study said: “Knowing that a high proportion of eggs in the local area helps to target our conservation efforts. We are now looking to raise awareness in local communities and on this local issue Can focus on direct law enforcement. It also means that we know where consumers are, which helps us focus on demand reduction campaigns. ”
According to Fesi, it is less important to find people who smuggle and sell eggs, often door to door, and identify handover locations than those who identify egg takers from the beach. “As trafficking is a more serious crime, those handover points are far more valuable from a law enforcement standpoint that prevent someone from taking a nest,” she said.
Not every trap was successful in deceiving the thieves. Six fake eggs were recovered at the beach, suggesting that they were rapidly discovered and released by collectors. Of the untouched nesting foils, 32% failed, probably because moisture penetrated the seals and damaged the transmitter.
Although Dicoys were scheduled to broadcast every hour, some failed to transmit because they were transferred to areas where they could no longer receive signals. Researchers said it would improve as the infrastructure developed on the Caribbean coast.
After being inspired by the tracking devices used to monitor drug dealing in Breaking Bad and The Wire, Dicoy was designed by Kim Williams-Guillen for Paso Pacifico.
He said: “In an episode of The Wire, two police officers place an audio device in a tennis ball to record a suspected drug dealer. Turtle eggs basically look like ping-pong balls, and we wanted to know where they were going – put those two ideas together and you have Investigator. ”
Williams-Guillen said he hoped the technique could be used to protect more turtle populations, as well as potentially be adapted to monitor egg theft from crocodile and parrot nests, as well. As well as track shipment of shark fins can also be done.
But she called for the abolition of the turtle egg trade, saying it should “be part of a multi-pronged conservation approach that uses education, creates better economic opportunities, and sea-turtle eggs — from poaching Enforcement to help fight “.