Maggie Muurmans

Maggie Muurmans helped to establish the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra, working closely with the local community of Pulau Banyak. Maggie educates the local community and provides them with tools to stimulate ecotourism and prevent poaching. Her work was rewarded with the Future For Nature Award in 2009.

More about Maggie Muurmans

“I was inspired by British naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell. I started my career at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation trust in Jersey (UK), where I worked as a mammal keeper, looking after primates, bears and bats.

I then traded my captive management experience for field work and started work as a research assistant with sea turtles on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. In subsequent years I worked as a research coordinator and project coordinator for a British organization in Costa Rica’s poorer neighbour Nicaragua and helped set up management plans and sea turtle projects in three protected nature reserves in the north-west of the country. I conducted biodiversity surveys in areas without any knowledge of the local flora and fauna and identified biodiversity new to the existing species list.”

More about the project

“In Indonesia I helped set up the only sea turtle conservation and monitoring programme in Sumatra, in close collaboration with the local community of Pulau Banyak, to protect the endangered turtles nesting and foraging in the archipelago. Since 2006, our organization, Yayasan Pulau Banyak, has helped to curb local poaching by combining beach patrols and environmental awareness campaigns with turtle friendly income opportunities for locals. Egg poaching has now completely stopped. The project provided the education and tools necessary to make ecotourism a suitable economic substitute for poaching and the project management also seeks to increase local infrastructure and social programmes. The project received true community support, which stemmed from direct, hands-on engagement.

In 2009 my work on sea turtle conservation and environmental work was rewarded with the Future For Nature Award, given to me by Sir David Attenborough. The Award crowned my conservation efforts in three different continents as well as providing international media exposure and acknowledgement for the project, resulting in additional funding and partnerships. Not only that, I had the exceptional experience of meeting Sir David Attenborough, who has inspired many people to conserve our natural environment.”