Akazul is a UK registered not-
The work of Akazul is based in the small coastal village of La Barrona, Jutiapa, situated on the Guatemalan Pacific Coast, 6km West of the El Salvador border. La Barrona was selected by Akazul not only due to the success of our previous conservation work carried out here, but also for the welcoming spirit and openness of the community members.
The 8.5km of typical black volcanic sand beach at La Barrona provides an important nesting ground for the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. Northeast of the village is an extensive mangrove network which projects into the next municipality of Santa Rosa. These contrasting ecosystems are inextricably linked, with important functions for the coexistence of the local biodiversity and for the people of La Barrona.
There are approximately 900 inhabitants in the isolated fishing village and surrounding area of La Barrona. Families are generally large and live in small simple stick or block houses with palm thatching. The local primary school accommodates around 60 children up to the age of 11 and the secondary school is approximately 6 km away.
The inhabitants rely heavily upon the use of local natural resources as their primary food source and for vital income generation. The majority of income stems from fishing, mangrove utilisation and through the legal collection and sale of turtle eggs during the Olive Ridley nesting season from July to December. The relatively few other forms of income in the area are typically low producing primary goods, such as milk, chickens and eggs, which are sold within the community or at nearby markets.
The high level of dependency on the local natural resources, coupled with population
growth, economic need and a lack of an effective management plan are placing increasing
pressure on La Barrona’s natural environment, with over-
We believe that greater community involvement and ownership in conservation issues
is the key for long lasting change. One way this is being demonstrated is through
the Akazul Sea Turtle Stewardship Program. This program involves local community
members in sea turtle monitoring and conservation activities by utilising a team
of the most conscientious local egg collectors to help improve the donation system
in the area. The stewards patrol the beach for up to 8 hours each night, talking
to other egg harvesters, gathering nesting information and receiving donations of
20%. The Sea Turtle Stewards all work on a completely voluntary basis. This project
is the first of its kind in Guatemala and marks an important milestone in ‘community-
The team are made up of the following individuals. Leonel Hernandez, Miguel Hernandez, Maynor Ramos, Melvin Monterroso, Arturo Melendriz, Tito Perez and Jorge Ramos.
The local passion for football was seen by Akazul as a useful entranceway to working
with an important target group, as way of offering young community members the opportunity
to get involved with an enjoyable organised activity and at the same time increase
awareness for the need of sea turtle conservation. In August 2011, Akazul established
a youth football team, comprised of 22 boys aged between 10 and 14. The majority
of these children are sons of egg collectors, and many also partake in egg harvesting
activities themselves. Football training sessions are held bi-
Once a week, Akazul provides an afternoon of activities for children aged 5-