Las Cuevas Eco Friendly Association is a small community NGO which was founded in 2013 to protect sea turtles that lay their eggs on the beach at Las Cuevas during the annual nesting season. Members of the community took the initiative because there was no official turtle protection programme in Las Cuevas, an area not popularly recognised for turtles.
Every nesting season, from March 1st to August 31st, members conduct nightly patrols from 8:00pm to 2:00am along the beach, ever on the look-out for errant motorists who drive onto the beach and destroy the eggs and hatchlings.
These self-appointed guardians also protect the turtles from visitors’ flash photography which has a negative impact on the turtles. They combine their patrols with public education on the turtles and their nesting habits. The Association also maintains a turtle-tagging programme to keep track of the number of turtles that come ashore at Las Cuevas. At dawn each morning, they count turtle tracks in order to determine how many turtles may have been missed.
For the past two years the turtle protection programme has been largely self-funded by a community with very little financial resources. For a few years, members received a stipend of $250 per night from the Green Fund but since 2018 no money has been allocated for turtle conservation.