Indigenous Colombians Shun Turtle Meat To Save Species

Posted Nov 9, 2010 by Janice Ambrose
The indigenous Wayuu people living on South America’s northern most tip are going to stop eating their main source of protein, turtle meat, because the reptile is dying out.
Kemp s Ridley is an extremely endangered Sea Turtle. The US National Park Service every year hatches...
Kemp's Ridley is an extremely endangered Sea Turtle. The US National Park Service every year hatches these turtles and releases them to the sea after incubation to help increase their numbers. Seen here is an annual "Sea Turtle Hatchling Release" event at Padre Island National Seashore.
Seventy two year old, Olegario Choles the leader of the Wayuu on Colombia’s impoverished La Guajira peninsula, told AFP of this age old tradition. I grew up eating turtle and raised my kids on the money I make hunting them. It really is rejecting the culture of our ancestors but the time has come to save them as the turtles are scarcer and scarcer. The nets come back empty. Standing next to his canoe Choles watched as a group of local children released two hundred Caguama turtles, also known as Caretta or Loggerhead sea turtles, through all six kinds of sea turtles native to the regions endangered.
After months of negotiations between hunters, restaurant owners and cooks all agreed it was time to remove turtle meat and eggs from their restaurant and home menus. This mass release took place at a beach on Bahia Hondita. Selected by the community for their understanding of the task ahead, a group of volunteers will make rounds at local beaches three times a day to monitor nests and protect baby turtles from natural predators.
According to the website of the Wayuu Taya Foundation, an NGO helping the Amerindian group, La Guajira peninsula is one of the poorest regions in South America.