Locally based Conservationists have expressed concern about the continued slaughter of Leatherback turtles on Grande Anse beach.
Doctor Horst Michael Vogel, the Head of Programme for Caribbean Aqua-Terrestial Solutions (CATS), has reported discovering a turtle grave on the beach on Saturday, April 9, 2016.
Grande Anse beach, on the North East Atlantic coast of Saint Lucia, was once famous as a sea turtle watch site, in particular for the critically endangered Leatherback, Vogel observed.
He observed that according to ‘The State of the World’s Sea Turtles’, there are 61 Leatherback nesting sites in North East Saint Lucia.
“From my observations that is history, which the recently renamed ‘Grande Anse Sea Turtle and Nature Defenders’ try to reverse. Unfortunately, all past and current efforts to do so, including substantial CATS support in 2014 and 2015, have so far come to nothing!” Vogel lamented in an email that was circulated to the Times.
He asserted that Leatherbacks, just like all sea turtles, can provide a vital source of income as a draw for ecotourism in coastal communities, which is what CATS and others wish to support.
“Along with such livelihood endeavor goes image and perception,” Vogel explained.
One source described the turtle slaughter as “disheartening” despite the gains made in 2014 and 2015.
“It seems that the only deterrent to the poachers and bandits was the continuous nighttime presence of a turtle watching crew,” the source observed.
He proposed that in the absence of a turtle watching crew, the feasibility of using Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV) or drones fitted with compact infrared thermal cameras to monitor Grande Anse beach during the turtle nesting season should be explored.
However in making the proposal, the source observed that one concern could be that the buzz of the drone’s rotors could disturb the turtles or the endemic species.
“Under our local laws the use of IR/thermal cameras are ere restricted and permission must be obtained from the Commissioner of Police ,but I think that this can be arranged through our Forestry and Fisheries Departments,” He added.
The source admitted that his suggestion might be a “wild idea” but said something need to be done about the “perennial” poaching problem.
“ There are times when it is better to try and fail than to fail to try,” the source concluded.