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I asked our guide if poaching was still a problem. “Yes,” he answered, “the ban is hard to enforce. We are trying to educate the local people about the environment, and tourism is gradually replacing the turtle harvest as the basis of our local economy.”
Beyond Muzunte the broad nesting beach extends as far as I can see. Bounded on one side by surf and the other by dense jungle and rocky headlands it’s easy to see why the beach is difficult to protect from determined poachers. Reversing old habits through education may be a slow process but the tiny settlement at Playa Ventanilla is proof that the environmental message is getting through. Located at the end of a dirt track a few kilometres west of Muzunte, is a local cooperative run by a group of about 20 closely related local families. They are dedicated to protecting and preserving the complex ecosystems of Laguna Ventanilla, an estuary that supports a bewildering array of bird, reptile and mammal species. And by providing tourist revenue from guided boat tours and horseback rides the beach and the estuary indirectly support the people who guard them.
We parked our van beside a cluster of modest houses where the people of Playa Ventanilla have settled. A small sign with a picture of a crocodile welcomes us to Laguna Ventanilla. There are a few cabanas for rent and a small open-air restaurant on the beach but, except for the sign, the place looks more like a sleepy little village than a commercial venture. The entrance to the lagoon is an invigorating half kilometre walk farther down the beach, a stunningly beautiful expanse of white sand. Walking close to the water’s edge I play tag with the surf, watching the waves rise into bright blue curls before shattering into white foam and sending me scurrying up the sand. Except for our group of seven and three lone horseback riders the beach is empty.
June 17, 2013, 5:00 PM
Social services, church and housing being built by Sea to Sky Community Services and United Church More...
June 17, 2013, 11:15 AM
Market opens with vendor numbers at maximum More...
June 16, 2013, 12:30 AM
67-kilometre mountain bike race sees 871 racers at the start More...