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Did this man die while saving sea turtle eggs?


A file photo of a leatherback turtle at a Sydney aquarium. (Reuters photo)

Was a Costa Rican environmentalist killed because he was trying to save eggs of Leatherback sea turtles from poachers?

So suggest reports from that country.

On Friday, Jairo Mora, 26, was travelling with four female volunteers to Nueve Millas, a remote beach off the Caribbean coast near the town of Mohín where Leatherback sea turtles, a critically endangered species, nest on the surrounding beaches during this time to lay eggs. The five planned to patrol several miles of sand to protect the nests from poachers, who were stealing eggs at night.

Hours later, Mora was dead and the four women would be tied up alone in a nearby abandoned house.

It’s a story that has sent ripples across the country, alarming environmentalists.

Leatherback sea turtles are one of the largest reptiles on Earth and can be found on beaches along Costa Rica’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

According to reports, the five stopped that night to remove an obstacle in their path — a tree trunk that blocked a road not far from the beach. Mora, reportedly, walked over to move it and was suddenly surrounded by four masked men. They locked him in the back of a car and took the women to the empty house.

When the women managed to break free, they walked to town and alerted the police. Authorities found Mora’s body next to the empty truck; he had been struck with a blunt object of his head, he had no clothes on.

Aimee Leslie, a Costa Rican who oversees the World Wildlife Foundation’s marine turtle efforts, told ABC Univision that Mora’s death is a critical point for conservation in the country.

“Now it has become a national security issue.”

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh



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