COSTA RICA NEWS – Police rescued a leatherback sea turtle from the vehicle of poachers who planned to sell the animal for its meat.
The leatherback is an endangered species and the sale of its flesh or eggs is banned in Costa Rica, but on the black market both sell for very high prices.
According to the Unidad de Intervención Policial (UIP) – police, the turtle was being transported Wednesday night in the trunk of a car in Matama, a town in the Caribbean province of Limón.
In a statement Friday, officials of the Ministerio de Seguidad Publica (MSP) said UIP agents, around 11:30pm, during a routing spot check for drugs and weapons, were met with gunfire when they tried to stop the vehicle, that ended in a chase for several kilometres.
When they checked the trunk of the car, the officers found the leatherback alive. The animal was not injured in the gunfire.
The animal was taken to the coast guard base in Limón where it was looked after so it could be returned to its marine habitat a short time later.
The leatherback, which can measure more than two metres long and weigh some 900 kg, is the largest sea turtle in the world.