Jairo Mora Award To Support Conservation (SUFB 191)

Speak Up For Blue Podcast

This is the most important episode that I’ve made for this podcast regarding the security of Conservation Biologists around the world.

The Jairo Mora award was announced at the International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada last week to increase the support to people working in developing countries where their right to protection in their job where their well being may be threatened. The award is named after Jairo Mora, a sea turtle conservation biologist who worked in Costa Rica to protect eggs from poachers and the nests from developers and tourists that may destroy the sites.

Jairo was brutally murdered at the age of 26 while 3 of his female colleagues were beaten and raped for their role in hindering something people wanted to put forward (it is not clear whether Jairo was murdered over a development or due to drugs). 7 people were acquitted at the first trial due to a technicality; however, 4 of the 7 suspects were found guilty and sentenced for their part in the murders and rapes.

The Society of Conservation Biology researched the matter further and found a report by Global Witness that stated nearly 1,000 conservation biologists were murdered between 2002 and 2014. The report does not account for the conservation biologists who where harassed, assaulted, or threatened during their efforts to protect the environment.

This is an important podcast because the number of people murdered is staggering and much of the world does not know that these incidents occur on a regular basis.  Jairo’s murder made news in Costa Rica, but it was because of the close nit Sea turtle Biologist community that news Jairo’s murder was shared with the community. The news went mainstream being covered in National Geographic and other online publications; however, the Conservation community was shocked.

Andrew Wright and Asha de Vos asked me if they could announce the Jairo Mora Award on the podcast because they wanted the Speak Up For Blue audience to know that the conservation community stands behind Jairo, his family, and all other conservation biologists who are threatened with harm, but continue to do their work because it matters to them and the environment.

I love in North America where I have a right to protection; to do my job without worrying about being hurt. I realize now that my colleagues in developing countries do not share that right. The award announced at the IMCC is a step forward in recognizing the women and men who make sacrifices to follow the same passion that all conservation biologists have are able to do their jobs.

Other steps need to be taken in order to show more “inclusivity” within the conservation biology field. Asha points out that there is a view of North American conservation biologists thinking they are better than their developing world colleagues because they have more funding and resources available to them; however, that is not the case and more communication needs to be done to ensure that all conservation biologists feel equal and worthy of pursuing their passion.

This podcast episode is another step in the right direction; however, more needs to be done and it will be done with the help of us at Speak Up For Blue.

Please listen to this podcast to find out more about Jairo and the work we need to do with this wonderful field of conservation biology.

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