Akazul is a UK registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company. Registration No. 07411520  © 2011

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Legalised sea turtle egg collection, economically deprived coastal communities and widespread product demand, has resulted in extremely high levels of egg harvesting in Guatemala. It is thought that close to 100% of all sea turtle nests are taken to be sold for human consumption in the city markets. Whilst the government’s egg-donation system was introduced to ensure the safeguarding of a small fixed percentage of eggs, this system alone is not effective enough to successfully protect or sustain Guatemala’s sea turtle populations.

In addition to its successful volunteer program, extensive environmental education and capacity building activities, in 2003, Project Parlama initiated the ‘Sponsor a Nest’ program at ARCAS’ Hawaii hatchery. This program was introduced as a way of supplementing the eggs collected through the existing donation system and the turtle nests found by volunteers on their nightly beach patrols.

During the duration of Project Parlama, funds were raised and nests were purchased at the four hatchery sites of La Barrona, Hawaii, El Rosario and El Gariton. This program made a dramatic impact on hatchling production at each of these sites and between the 2003 -2007 seasons the Sponsor a Nest scheme alone saved over 67,000 eggs.

Other hatchery projects have since adopted the program and Akazul continues working with local communities using Sponsor a Nest donations to raise hatchery productivity and increase the chances of survival for Guatemala’s sea turtles.

Although the purchasing of sea turtle eggs may be considered by some to be controversial, the ‘Sponsor a Nest’ scheme does not promote further collection due to the already present and extremely high level of egg harvesting. Sponsor a Nest is not an ultimate solution, but it plays an important role in Guatemala’s sea turtle conservation, in a country where egg-harvesting is legal and alternative work opportunities are low. What the scheme does encourage is for local egg-collectors to become actively involved with the conservation of their population of sea turtles as an alternative to supplying the egg trade, whilst also safeguarding their short term income.

Nests are obtained through the Sponsor a Nest scheme using funds specifically donated for this cause. Eggs are purchased from collectors by project workers on the beach directly after the egg laying process. Once the legal donation has been deducted and documented, the remaining eggs are counted and payment issued. The nest is then carefully transported and re-buried immediately in the local hatchery. This system also ensures that eggs are buried as fresh as possible to optimise hatchling success rates. Sponsor a Nest has already helped to safeguard tens of thousands of eggs which otherwise would have ended up for sale in city markets.

Sea turtle eggs are sold by the dozen. The cost of an average sized clutch of 100 eggs is roughly US$15 during the high nesting season (almost the same price as chicken eggs!) but range up to US$40 during the lower nesting months. Although nests are cheaper to purchase during peak months, for hatchery management purposes and community based motives, nests are purchased throughout the entire season, so an average $25 donation is recommended.

Once a Sponsor a Nest donation has been received, you will receive a certificate, printable photos, and an annual electronic copy of our ‘Sponsor a Nest’ newsletter detailing each nest purchased with your donations and thanking you for your much needed contribution towards Guatemalan sea turtle conservation.

To sponsor a nest with Akazul please donate securely via Paypal where all major credit and debit cards are also accepted.

The ‘Sponsor a Nest’ scheme allows Akazul to protect more sea turtles by purchasing eggs directly from local egg-collectors. By selling Akazul their nests, collectors are still able to receive their vital income, but the eggs are contributed towards conservation efforts rather than sold for human consumption. This scheme encourages community collaboration and has helped to dramatically increase sea turtle hatchery productivity in Guatemala.

Why ‘Sponsor a Nest’?
How does Sponsor a Nest work?