On many Central American beaches, poachers destroy more than 90% of sea turtle nests to sell the eggs into the illegal wildlife trade. The eggs are smuggled to cities where they are eaten as a delicacy in restaurants and bars. This wildlife crime is devastating for endangered sea turtles. Poachers currently have the upper hand on circumventing local authorities, and little is known about the routes they use to smuggle endangered species.
To trace poaching routes and help stop the illegal wildlife trade, Paso Pacífico has developed the InvestEGGator: a GPS-GSM tracking device that mimics the look and feel of real sea turtle eggs. Kim Williams-Guillén, our lead conservation scientist, developed the initial prototypes with her home 3D printer and software, and special effects make-up artist Lauren Wilde joined us to paint the printed eggs so they would be nearly indistinguishable from real sea turtle eggs. When they are placed into real sea turtle nests, InvestEGGators can go undiscovered by poachers and provide real-time maps of smuggling routes. Armed with that information, we intend to work with authorities to dismantle egg trafficking, both domestically and internationally.
InvestEGGators are currently in use at several locations in Central America, and we are continuing to refine the the design and production process so we can make this technology available for widespread use by conservation-oriented nonprofits and individuals. Our invention has twice won prizes in USAID‘s Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, winning a Challenge Prize in 2016 and an Acceleration Prize in 2017. Together, we can fight wildlife trafficking and save marine species from extinction. Click here to join the fight to save sea turtles with cutting-edge technology!