Communities release over 51,000 baby turtles in the Amazon

The Ecological Gymkhana gathered more than 500 people from 45 communities of the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve and the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve for the release of Amazonian turtle hatchlings, as well as other species of turtles.

The activity marks the end of four months of work by monitors accompanying the reproduction process of the species – from spawning to the release of hatchlings. Monitoring is necessary to protect the hatchlings from capture and sale by poachers. “Monitoring is important to know the effectiveness of both mother and egg conservation,” explained Felipe Pires, Local Coordinator of SITAWI's Médio Juruá Territory Program. 

Gilberto Olavo, manager of the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve, explained that Conservation Units have been engaged in monitoring initiatives for over 20 years. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of monitored areas and partners supporting the activities, which has resulted in more turtles being released. “These new partnerships have enabled us to release more hatchlings and monitor an additional species, the iaçá turtle. Adding all turtle species, we have released 325,000 hatchlings in 2019, almost a 20% growth," Olavo said.

The event was part of the Ecological Gymkhana, promoted by the Amazonas State Environment Secretariat (SEMA) in partnership with the Carauari City Hall, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the São Raimundo Community Extractive Groups Association (AMECSARA). In addition to releasing turtles, local school children shared their knowledge on environmental health and participated in sports competitions. 

For Érica Figueiro, who volunteers as an environmental agent and has been accompanying her father, who is a monitor, for three years, the Gymkhana is time for celebration: “We are seeing the results of a work we began over 20 years ago, which was not an easy job. But it's been worth it. If, 20 years ago, they hadn't thought about future generations – about my generation – I wouldn't know today what a turtle is. I wouldn't know what it's like to see a turtle hatchling on the beach, which for us is fascinating,” she added.

SITAWI supports AMECSARA monitors, take four month turns monitoring 17 beaches where turtles spawn. Financial support is provided to the monitors to supplement lost income while they are surveying turtle activity.