According to Costa Rica’s National Nomenclature Committee, as of Monday, the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge will officially be known as the Jairo Mora Sandoval Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.
The renaming of the refuge honors slain turtle conservationist Jairo Mora, who was killed May 31 while patrolling Moín Beach, on the northern Caribbean coast, to protect nesting leatherback turtles and their eggs.
Though the Environment Ministry originally planned to designate a protected area at Moín and name it for the conservationist, Mora’s family, originally from Gandoca-Manzanillo, requested their son’s homage to be closer to home.
Located seven miles south of Puerto Viejo on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the 12,382-acre-park is a popular nesting spot for green, hawksbill, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. Mora grew up near the park and learned conservation at a young age from his grandfather, who was instrumental in founding the refuge, according to Mora’s friends.
He died at the age of 26, the victim of an attack by known turtle poachers, who target Moín Beach during turtle nesting season to steal eggs and sell them on the black market for $1 a piece. Two months after the attack, which also targeted four foreign volunteers who escaped unharmed, police arrested eight suspects in the killing. Seven remain in custody pending trial.
Poachers can earn up to $100 a night during nesting seasons. Customers of the illegal trade wrongly believe sea turtle eggs have aphrodisiacal powers when consumed.