Well, not too long ago, a few minutes in fact, I had a nice comment chat with Gator Woman (Not her name, of course, about conservation, so I decided to make a post about how activism can work. But why with Samppras Carrot? Well, that’s just because the only photo I have left of the place due to the lack of backup is one with my travelling companion (post updated, found another)!
Unfortunately, we live in a society obsessed with money and larger profits, doing anything possible to have more than their neighbours. Well, that’s very unfortunate. Sometimes, the dependence of money and this thirsty is just an attempt to survive, and that’s how the village at Praia do Forte, in the State of Bahia, Brazil, started off. They were fortunate enough to witness one of the most spectacular events in the world: Thousands of sea turtles coming to their beach to lay eggs. For years, the locals relied on the eggs of the turtles and, many times, on the turtles themselves for meat and speciality dishes to attract tourists to the village (Apparently, that’s one of the main reasons the Pinta Island Tortoise (Lonesome George) is now extinct… they were very tasty). As you can probably imagine, this was successful, but only for so long. Very soon, not as many females were coming to the beach anymore and some of the species came close to the brink of extinction (when one depends on them to survive, one will kill until there is nothing left… like the world and petrol).
In came a few oceanography students and, to be brief, started the Projeto TAMAR (Tartaruga Marinha), i.e. The Marine Turtle Project. This project started not by trying to change the law and enforcing it, but by educating the locals. Through a lot of effort and the help of sponsors (Who love having their names attached to conservation projects), they were able to show the locals that they would earn a lot more with tourists, who would come to see the turtles alive than to eat them… and they were right! Tourists from all over Brazil and the World have been flocking down to that paradisiacal beach to visit the project since the mid 80’s. Now the project has connections with several brazilian universities, local school and governments, finances several educational programs and has over 20 bases along the brazilian coast. As per 2008, over 8 million turtles have been released to the sea, many that now return to their birth place to lay their eggs.
Local families have been thriving with the capital that tourism brings to their lives and they have been much better off than when poaching occurred. Samppras can confirm that!