Combating the illegal trade of marine turtles in Palawan

Sue Andrey Ong

The islands of Palawan are a mega diverse hotspot torn apart by illegal mining, unregulated logging, unmanaged coastal development and active poaching. Nevertheless, its remote beaches still host some of the last remaining nesting grounds for the three endangered marine turtle species, namely, hawksbill turtle, green turtles and olive ridley turtles. The ongoing harvest for local consumption and illegal trade of turtle eggs, meat and carapaces are pushing these populations to the brink of extinction. Coastal developments, such as beach development and unregulated local nest management initiatives, are also threatening turtle populations. Many coastal communities live along these shorelines and their local ecological knowledge remains untapped. Semi-structured interviews and field surveys will be conducted to understand the status of the remaining turtle populations, identify nesting hotspots and quantify threats along the coast of north Palawan. These data and the relationships built with local communities will build a foundation for local management and turtle conservation interventions. The project will bring scientists and communities together to: i) identify priority key nesting sites and threats through local knowledge; ii) build the capacity of local organizations to enhance nesting beach management and combat illegal wildlife trade; and iii) engage with local communities to develop action plans for identified priority nesting sites.

Watch the project video here: