Decoy sea turtle egg is a tracker for poachers

A new low-cost device uses geotagging technology to deter and reduce the illegal wildlife trade.

Researchers at Paso Pacifico, a conservation group based in Nicaragua, have created a decoy sea turtle egg that is actually a GPS-GSM tracking device. The egg can be placed within a nest of real eggs, and when disturbed and stolen by a poacher, tracks the smuggling routes in real time. It is hoped the creation, named the InvestEGGator, will help put an end to the 90 percent of sea turtle eggs produced in Central America that are sold into the illegal wildlife trade, even being sold to restaurants as a delicacy. The financial incentive is overwhelming, as a single turtle egg can command USD 100-300 on the international market.

The InvestEGGator is a low cost dummy turtle egg with an internally embedded tracker, created using a 3D printer. It replicates the appearance, weight, and feel of a real turtle egg, it is easily deployed at low risk to investigators, can be programmed, and is monitored remotely using web-based and smartphone applications. Its low cost allows for deployment of many units at once. The goal of the InvestEGGator project is to deter and reduce the illegal trade of sea turtle eggs and contribute to the long-term survival of four endangered marine turtle species, with the aim of perfecting the technology and making it readily available to sea turtle conservationists worldwide.

Technology has the capability of making real change to the damning effect of poaching, with one zoological society collaborating with a tech company on a sensor and satellite network to trace poachers, and another innovation adopting AI software on drones to monitor wild animals and poachers. How could trackers be used within your operations to boost efficiency and pinpoint weak areas?

During my recent conservancy safari in Kenya, we discussed the use of technology, from drones to tags, and it works very well! Real changes!

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