Come, Sea the Turtles
The Surinamese Foundation for Nature Preservation (STINASU) has hatched a plan that is giving indigenous people a reason to protect endangered leatherback turtles. More than half of the world’s population of leatherback turtles come to the beaches of Surinam to lay their eggs, but their numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, primarily because of commercial drift net fishing, egg poaching, and the construction of hotels on nesting beaches. To help tackle the problem, STINASU has started promoting ecotourism in area, and the presence of tourists has helped deter poachers. Tourists are also taken to the village of the local Carib Amerindian community, where they can watch cultural shows and purchase local goods. Other programs by nongovernmental organizations have made loans available to fishers and poachers to help them change jobs, and now many of the locals, especially the younger ones, are seeing the value in protecting the turtles.