A conservation group in El Nido has raised concerns about the operation of all terrain vehicles (ATV) rentals on Nacpan Beach, a popular beach destination.
The group El Nido Marine Turtle Conservation Network said the ATV vehicles have been disturbing the marine turtle nesting sites in the area particularly at this time when it is nesting season.
Jamie Dichaves, a member of the El Nido Marine Turtle Conservation Network, posted the photos on their Facebook page on the dangers of the ATVs tracks affecting the newly-hatched turtles crawling their way back to the sea.
Aside from the constant threat of the ATVs accidentally running over the hatchlings on their romp around the beach, the tire tracks from the vehicles make it difficult to find turtle nests on the beach that need to be relocated to other areas.
Dichaves said that the ATVs constantly driving on Nacpan Beach have also compacted the sand, making it difficult for turtles to make nests since they need soft and loose sand to hatch their eggs.
The ATVs are being rented out to tourists by a consortium of locals, despite several previous attempts to halt the operations in Nacpan, as ATVs and motor vehicles, in general, are not allowed near protected areas.
“Nasa Nacpan pa lang talaga ang meron. At one point nag-try sila na magexpand sa Duli, pero proactive din kasi yung mga nandoon, ayaw nila ng ATVs kasi nakakagulo siya,” Dichaves said.
“From the start pa lang nakapag get in touch pa din with the Municipal Tourism Office tapos nasaraduhan na yung access para hindi na ito gawing gateway. This was around February nung nilagyan ng harang,” she added.
The pictures were posted on El Nido Marine Turtle Conservation Network’s Facebook page after the ATVs snubbed the repeated warnings.
When asked whether the ATV drivers would stop if they actually witnessed the turtles hatching in front of them, Dichaves reported that during a recent hatchling event, the renters stopped the ATVs just short of the actual nesting site, paused to take some pictures, and then continued driving despite the hatchlings still making their way back to the ocean.
Dichaves hoped that this will soon be remedied, as October to May are peak hatching seasons for turtles in El Nido.