Despite their protected status, marine turtle eggs are still considered a delicacy by many people in Suriname. Thousands continue to be consumed each year, putting unsustainable pressure on already decreasing green turtle populations.

In recent years, the Surinamese police force and government agencies have made great strides in tackling the poaching and smuggling of turtle eggs with the support of WWF. However, focusing solely on the criminals who supply the eggs will not solve the problem. Ending demand is the key to ending the trade, which is why WWF-Guianas has begun targeting consumers as well as poachers and traffickers.

In January 2014, WWF launched its first, yearlong campaign in Suriname to try and change the attitudes of turtle egg consumers. At the heart of the campaign were twelve prominent members of Surinamese society, including musicians, politicians and athletes, who all agreed to act as Marine Turtle Ambassadors for a month to raise awareness about the link between eating poached turtle eggs and the long term survival of the country’s turtle species.

For example, one of Suriname’s most famous singers, Kenny B, added his youth friendly voice to the campaign by recording videos with Surinamese school children at the Paramaribo Zoo to discourage people from tucking into turtle eggs. And popular TV chef Micle Fung presented a special programme to encourage people to stop cooking with the eggs by providing them with a wealth of alternative, turtle-egg-free recipes, which WWF helped to circulate.

The campaign has also linked up with the private sector to help spread the word. Since turtle eggs are often cooked with masala, WWF partnered with one of Suriname’s largest producers, which threw its considerable weight behind the campaign when it agreed to stick the ‘Krape? Nee!’ (Turtle? No!) logo onto its packaging.

And religious leaders have also played their part. To raise awareness among Suriname’s mainly Muslim Javanese community, which has traditionally consumed turtle eggs, Iman Ozir featured in a powerful documentary, teaching children about marine turtles and explaining why caring for nature is part of Islam.

It will take time to reduce demand for turtle eggs but this innovative campaign has managed to get the message out in a multitude of ways. With poachers and smugglers already under pressure from the authorities, turtle eggs might soon start disappearing not from the beaches but from Suriname’s menus.

See how religious leaders are supporting turtle conservation in Suriname in this short documentary.