Ecological Gymkhana brought together more than 500 people from 45 communities of the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS) and the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve (Resex) to release the baby Amazon turtle and other chelonian species.
The activity is the end of four months of work by monitors who accompany the reproduction of the species – from spawning to the release of the young. Monitoring is necessary because the species is a target for poachers and smugglers who seek to capture the turtles as hatchlings to sell. “Monitoring is important to know the effectiveness of conservation, both of the matrices and the eggs”, explained Felipe Pires, Local Coordinator of Sitawi's Juruá Middle Territory Program.
Gilberto Olavo, manager of RDS Uacari, explained that the Conservation Units have been monitoring for over twenty years, and that in recent years the monitored areas and partners that support the activities have increased, which has also resulted in more turtles being released. “These new partnerships allowed us to release more young and monitor one more species of chelonian, the iaçá. Adding turtle, turtle and iacá, we reached 325,000 hatchlings in 2019, an evolution of almost 20%”, he said.
The event was part of the Ecological Gymkhana, promoted by the Secretary of the Environment of Amazonas (SEMA) in conjunction with the Municipality of Carauari, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the Association of Extractive Residents of the São Raimundo Community (AMECSARA). In addition to releasing the turtles, there was a presentation by the schools on environmental education, health and, also, sports competitions.
For Érica Figueiro, who is a volunteer environmental agent and who has been accompanying her father who has been a monitor for three years, the competition is a moment of celebration: “We see the result of over 20 years of work, which is not an easy job . And it has been worth it. If they hadn't thought 20 years ago about future generations, in my generation, today I wouldn't know what a turtle is, today I wouldn't know what it's like to see a baby turtle walking along the beach, so for us it's something fascinating,” he says. .
Sitawi supports monitors who take turns for four months to monitor 17 trays (the beaches where the turtles spawn). Financial support is necessary because during this time the monitors have to stay on the beaches, away from their communities and therefore unable to maintain other sources of income.
The conservation of turtles is one of the activities of the Juruá Middle Territory Program, coordinated by Sitawi.
News originally published on the website of Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB).