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Dr Diego Amorocho is the founder and Executive Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Management and Development (CIMAD), a Colombian NGO that seeks to foster research-driven management of natural resources and community based conservation along the Country’s western Pacific coast.
Recognised as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the region is home to four endangered species of turtle, including the Leatherback and hawksbill turtle, both of which are listed as critically endangered with extinction by the IUCN. For more than 20 years as a researcher and conservationist, Diego has focussed his efforts on putting a stop to the wide-scale depletion of sea turtle populations that is occurring in the waters of the Colombian Pacific.
Decades of overfishing and targeted turtle poaching for meat and shell have caused dramatic decline in turtle numbers and, with increasing mortality from accidental by-catch, along with the destruction of beach-nesting sites as coastal development continues to expand, sea turtle populations are coming under serious pressure.
However, Diego and his team at CIMAD are fighting to stem the tide of decline by working to engender a change in the attitudes of Colombia’s coastal communities towards a new culture based on pride for the region’s endangered species and involvement in their conservation. Such positive change is being achieved by combining basic knowledge of turtle biology with the development of appropriate economic alternatives and educational opportunities for local people.
Today, fishermen from local villages are working closely with CIMAD researchers, assisting in surveys of breeding and foraging sites, and also by promoting the use of special hooks designed to reduce turtle by-catch during fishing activities. Dr Amorocho’s innovative and multi-layered approach to conservation successfully merges science, economics and social understanding to uncover new ways for impoverished local communities to improve their livelihoods. Diego’s work is also ensuring the continued survival of sea turtle populations, one of the most traditional and valuable marine resources of the Colombian Pacific.
Project Leader: Diego Amorocho
Diego Amorocho, aged 48. Colombian Biologist MSc. in Environmental Science from the Australian National University. Ph.D in Biological Sciences from Monash University (Australia).
Diego has more than 20 years experience working on sea turtle research and conservation management and public participation in the Pacific of Colombia. He is an acknowledged member and current Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. In addition to his native Spanish, he speaks English and Portuguese. He has authored several book chapters, scientific articles, seminar papers and presented posters at national and international forums. He has supervised eight undergraduate marine turtle biologists and ecologists, who have conducted their Bachelor thesis research on marine turtles in the San Andrés Archipelago, the Central Caribbean coast, and in Gorgona National Park in the Colombian Pacific. Diego will be part-time in Gorgona and part-time in Guapi coordinating and assessing project activities. His experience is specifically in the following areas:
- Sea turtle
field research along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Colombia;