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Blood in the Sand
January 21, 2014 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Killing a Turtle Advocate
Each spring on Costa Rica’s desolate Caribbean coast, endangered leatherback sea turtles come ashore at night to lay and hide their eggs. Poachers steal them for cash, and as Matthew Power reports, they’re willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.
posted by the man of twists and turns (36 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've posted about sea turtle work and poachers in Costa Rica before, and having walked beaches for eggs and worked with conservationists, this brings me to tears. Although I have been to the Limon area, I worked on the other side of the continent, in Ostional. I can only hope that the beaches at our old research site remain safe. This is what remains after a poacher finds a turtle, drags it to a killing ground, takes the eggs, and burns the rest.
posted by Muddler at 5:52 PM on January 21


Good post. I was thinking about posting the main link too, but this is better. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 6:02 PM on January 21


We had a very scary run in with turtle egg poachers in Nicaragua. Felt lucky to get away unscathed (discretion being the better part of valor and all that). Not everyone in our group agreed we should walk away, though. I can easily imagine this situation.
posted by karst at 6:02 PM on January 21


Well, since they are hell bent on destroying an endangered species and willing to kill anyone who tries to stop them, I'd say they have made their own case for the need for lethal force to stop them.

Also, just to be cautious, we might consider lethal force against the people who buy the eggs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:08 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I'm for shooting poachers of endangered species on sight.
posted by chance at 6:23 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


As am I. Things are going to get to that point across the world.
posted by Bubbles Devere at 6:28 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


The only reason there are any rhinoceroses left in the wild is because they have armed protectors, and even they are losing ground. Between vanishing habitat and relentlessly growing human demand, this is basically going to be the norm everywhere. Tax the tourists and the retirees and use the money to pay soldiers to protect what's left. And keep an eye on them too, because gamekeeper-turned poacher is a very old story.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:30 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


chance: "I'm for shooting poachers of endangered species on sight."

Snipers waiting for the poachers. LOTS of snipers.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:25 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Remember that web site that was trying to set up remote controlled guns so people could hunt animals from home? They should do that same thing, but allow users to pick off the poachers. Might work for turtle egg nests, but probably not so good for rhinos.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:29 PM on January 21


I'm for shooting poachers of endangered species on sight.

God, seriously?
posted by Chutzler at 8:36 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Goddamn seriously, buddy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


So a guy was arrested here in Palm Beach County a few days ago for stealing sea turtle eggs (I wrote "poaching" sea turtle eggs, but that sounded too much like he was making Sea Turtle Benedict.) What the news story didn't mention, and what I was immediately consumed with curiosity about, was why would anyone want sea turtle eggs? I had a vague idea that he was taking them home and putting them into incubators so he could have a batch of sea turtles raised in captivity, which then people would buy for large amounts of money, because what's a Palm Beach estate without your own pet sea turtles. If I were given a million years, I would never have guessed that people buy the eggs for a dollar each as aphrodisiacs.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:57 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Daily Alice: "I would never have guessed that people buy the eggs for a dollar each as aphrodisiacs."

Oh hell, is it that same old trope again? That sickens me.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:20 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Absofuckinglutely. I am glad there are a lot of people who feel this way. I've actually seen a lot of us out there on Reddit speaking this. There is absolutely no remorse to me for a dead fucking poacher at all.
posted by symbioid at 11:15 PM on January 21


The only reason there are any rhinoceroses left in the wild is because they have armed protectors, and even they are losing ground.

1,000+ Rhinos Poached in 2013: Highest in Modern History. Increasing demand for the animals' horns drove the slaughter, report says.
posted by homunculus at 11:46 PM on January 21


I see a symbiotic opportunity. Hunters want to hunt, poachers want to poach. How about high priced hunting safaris, only hunting for poachers? Instead of auctions for hunting permits for rhinos we offer permits for hunting poachers. Kinda like a modern "True Grit".
posted by karst at 5:53 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]




.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:24 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


They shoot elephants in the brain. It can take them a week to die. They suffer. They stagger around. They rub at the wound with their trunk. The pain is palpable.

I don't like it, but yeah, I say shoot the poachers. Desperate times.

It's the only offense I feel this way about. Serial killers? Lock 'em up and make them take a psych test daily for the rest of their lives. Study the crap out of them. But here, the equation is stupidly simple, and the callousness is on a level all its own.
posted by Trochanter at 8:34 AM on January 22


This shit happens all the time in North America, too. Grizzlies, deer, fish. While not in agreement with summary executions, I agree that it is past due for very stringent enforcement.
posted by No Robots at 9:07 AM on January 22


Not so much summary executions as defend the animals by any means.
posted by Trochanter at 9:14 AM on January 22


Goddamn seriously, buddy.

I'm not here to doubt the value of these creatures (poaching riles me up like little else), but this "solve it with bullets" approach strikes me as ham-fisted at best.
posted by Chutzler at 9:40 AM on January 22


Er. Yeah. I'm assuming all of this shoot-dead-on-sight judge dredd stuff is hyperbole? Or is there a bigger PETA contingent here than previously suspected?
posted by ominous_paws at 9:56 AM on January 22


There is absolutely no remorse to me for a dead fucking poacher at all.

Would you prefer they are executed as in this previous thread?
posted by ReeMonster at 10:51 AM on January 22


Just goes to show that when it comes to certain issues, like you know, the DEATH PENALTY, people are all "Wow that's cruel, how dare they treat a convicted rapist/murderer like that, we are truly a disgusting human race if we allow capital punishment."

But when it comes to killing sea turtles, others are all "Cut their fucking balls off! Skin them alive, film it for HD broadcast in movie theaters, put their kids in a car, set it on fire, and dance around it like a bunch of wild In'juns, RAWRR!!!"

I wonder how many are the same people for both opinions.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:55 AM on January 22


Literally nobody has said that here.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:07 AM on January 22


Literally nobody has said that here.

It's the jist man, the jist.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:18 AM on January 22


Seems like a significant exaggeration of the theme.

But at the same time, I am also saddened by support of violence against poachers. Yes, they're making terrible decisions that have much broader impacts than other forms of robbery or vandalism, but they're making decisions from some starting point, most notably 1) the value of the good, and 2) the poachers other options for financial gain.

For rhino horn, there is a large, terrible, stupid market for it - East Asia, especially Vietnam. In Vietnam in 2012, rhino horn sold for up to $1,400 an ounce, about the price of gold. At least in Vietnam, it's a status symbol, as well as a cure for the effects of binge drinking (by inducing vomiting), and "ancient medicine books" attribute three values to rhino horn - decrease temperature, the second is to detoxify and the third is to improve blood quality.

Improve the quality of life, increase the job opportunities, and promote education and understanding of basic science and medicine, and the market for such cure-alls and status symbols will diminish. Killing the perpetrators increases the costs of doing business, as death penalties don't serve as the deterrence that people imagine they do (though at a dollar an egg, death to poachers might be a stronger disincentive than for highly valued rhino horn).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:22 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I am anti death penalty most of the time, but when there's only a few thousand X left and the poachers shoot rangers, I wholly support lethal protection for the species. Give them alternative jobs is fine, except the species will be extinct before that happens and besides which, poachers want to poach. Proof being that everyone else who grew up in the same circumstances is somehow not poaching.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on January 22


In a world with impotence drugs that actually work, who would buy something as obviously quackery as a turtle egg?
posted by Blackanvil at 12:46 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Proof being that everyone else who grew up in the same circumstances is somehow not poaching.

Seriously? I'd call happily call bullshit on this with regard to drug dealing in the US and the economics here are, from the sound of it, quite a bit more disparate (poachers can make $200 a night, after all). Some are undoubtedly greedy, but you find that everywhere. An increase in the standard of living would cut down on the number of people who find poaching a viable alternative to any other means of earning a living.

I advocate designating the place a park and having armed rangers patrol, but to defend against people like those who killed Mora, not to shoot at the poachers. Simply knowing there is a police force patrolling the area against poachers will cut down on the number of casual poachers. I know that getting them to a better standard of living is going to take a good deal of time. But simply executing poachers will not fix the problem, as much as it is a really satisfying gut reaction.
posted by Hactar at 1:25 PM on January 22


I oppose the death penalty as meted out by the state in a courtroom, but I'd fully support defending endanered animals with lethal force. I support "bringing to justice" those who commit these acts. I'd sooner support lethal force in the defense of an endangered species than I do to protect "the American way of life" (War On Terror).
posted by karst at 1:35 PM on January 22


Blackanvil: "In a world with impotence drugs that actually work, who would buy something as obviously quackery as a turtle egg?"

The eggs are being taken for aphrodisiacs (are their commercial products for this?) and fertility (which is a hard to treat problem even if you have thousands of dollars to spend) not impotence. Belief in superstition is strong especially when not actively countered with hard science and even then it is a hard road. Look at all the traction the bullshit anti-vaxxers get.
posted by Mitheral at 1:53 PM on January 22


There is absolutely no remorse to me for a dead fucking poacher at all.

I first read that as "There is absolutely no remorse to me for fucking a dead poacher at all." Yikes.
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


But when it comes to killing sea turtles, others are all "Cut their fucking balls off! Skin them alive, film it for HD broadcast in movie theaters, put their kids in a car, set it on fire, and dance around it like a bunch of wild In'juns, RAWRR!!!"

Can I have your agent's phone number?
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:34 PM on January 22




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