Costa Rica: Marine Turtle Activist Murdered, Reward Offered for Information

Marine turtle activist Jairo Mora Sandoval was brutally murdered while monitoring nests in Costa Rica. Photo by Rabon David / USFWS
Marine turtle activist Jairo Mora Sandoval was brutally murdered while monitoring nests in Costa Rica. Photo by Rabon David / USFWS

Jairo Mora Sandoval, an activist for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), was brutally murdered in Costa Rica while monitoring turtle nests. He was kidnapped by an armed gang on Thursday, May 30, and found “bound, badly beaten, and shot in the head” on Friday.

Four foreign volunteers — all women — who were with Mora on nest patrol were abducted the night of the attack, and survived. One of Mora’s colleagues, Vanessa Lizano, told BBC News that they had received “many threats” from traffickers.

It was him they wanted, because he was the one who was always looking after the nests.

She said that turtle egg smugglers can make $300 per day.

Cunt of the Day awarded to the thugs who murdered sea turtle activist in Costa Rica

Todd Steiner, a wildlife biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, is calling for justice.

Jairo’s murderers must be brought to justice so that sea turtle activists around Costa Rica and the world know that this will never be tolerated. The whole world is watching to make sure the Costa Rican government brings these thugs to justice and makes sea turtle nesting beaches safe for conservationists to do their work.

The Center for Biological Diversity announced that a $10,000 reward is being offered for information on the murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval. Contact PorJairoMoraSandoval[at]gmail[dot]com with information on the crime.

The Jairo Mora Sandoval Reward Fund is growing and is currently being supported by the following organizations:

If your organization would like to contribute to the fund, contact Todd Steiner at tsteiner[at]tirn[dot]net or (415) 663 8590 x 103. Individuals wishing to contribute to the fund can do so at seaturtles.org/donateforjustice. There is also a petition demanding justice at seaturtles.org/turtlejustice.

The illegal killing of sea turtles and taking their eggs, is a leading factor driving sea turtles toward extinction. For example, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia reported on June 3 that 6,500 marine turtle eggs were seized in Sabah, Malaysia.

Marine turtles, including the leatherback sea turtles that nest on the beach Mora monitored, are protected by several laws, including Costa Rica’s Marine Turtle Population Law of 2002 and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.