Armed men on the Caribbean coast have invaded a turtle nesting project and made off with 1,500 eggs presumably for sale.
That was the report from the environmental ministry, which said Thursday that security is being beefed up for the protection of the endangered leatherback and olive ridley turtles.
The ministry said that armed individuals raided the turtle conservation facility in Moín Monday. Present at the private facility was an employee and foreign volunteers. They were held at gunpoint and tied up.
The Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones said that employees of the Área de Conservación la Amistad Caribe and the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación inspected the scene. The project fences off turtle nests to keep out predators and egg thieves.
The ministry said it was calling on the Fuerza Pública, the Policía Turística and other agencies to provide security to the site and similar locations.
The ministry said that officials presume that the robbers planned to sell the eggs in the area. Ana Lorena Guevara, an environmental vice minister, called on the population to also protect what she said was the emblematic species.
This is probably the first armed robbery of turtle eggs.
The theft of turtle eggs is epidemic on both coasts. This may be one reason for declining turtle populations. There is little formal control along the Caribbean coast and eating turtle eggs and even turtles is traditional although now illegal.
On the Pacific there is a project that allows locals to harvest the eggs of early arriving turtles.
That program has generated criticism.