The Turtle Foundation is a non-profit organization dedication to protecting and conserving endangered sea turtles. We are a small, almost entirely volunteer organization, with projects in Indonesia and Cape Verde.
What are we doing in Boavista, Cape Verde? ……..
Although all species of sea turtles are officially protected under the laws of Cape Verde, they are exposed to multiple threats, including the slaughter of female Loggerheads when they come ashore to nest and the destruction of their nesting beaches by rapid tourism development. In 2007, a research NGO called Natura 2000 reported that over 1100 turtles were slaughtered as they came ashore to nest. This is estimated to be over 35% of the nesting female population, the 3rd largest in the world after the nesting populations of Oman and Florida. This is clearly unsustainable, and will quickly lead to the extinction of this population if protection measures are not instituted. The poachers’ methods of killing the turtle are incredibly brutal and horrifying. This is not only about animal conservation but also about animal protection and preventing animal cruelty.
Boavista, with roughly 50 kilometres of sandy beaches, is probably the largest remaining nesting area of Caretta caretta in Cape Verde. In 2008, responding to this crisis, Turtle Foundation sent personnel to Boavista to establish, with support from soldiers with the Cape Verdean military, a monitoring presence on Porto Ferreira beach, one of the main nesting beaches. In 2007, over 600 turtles were killed on this beach alone. In 2008, as a result of Turtle Foundation’s protection program, only 60 turtles were identified as killed on this beach, representing a 90% reduction in mortality.
In 2009 Turtle Foundation’s protection program was expanded, with 4 beaches being patrolled and protected by Turtle Foundation, again with the support from the Cape Verde military and this time also with the invaluable participation of international volunteers. These patrols were implemented at Norte Beach and Canto Beach in the northeast of Boavista, and Lacacão Beach and Curral Velho Beach in the south. Porto Ferreira Beach and Ervatao Beach on the east coast were protected by Natura 2000, one of Turtle Foundation’s partners in the Cape Verde Sea Turtle Network, for the 2009 nesting season.
The data for the 2009 nesting season shows that the patrols and protection have been tremendously successful in reducing turtle mortality. In 2009, only 42 turtles were documented as killed on our protected beaches. However, this increased the hunting pressure on as-yet unprotected beaches, resulting in approximately 220 turtles killed on unprotected beaches on Boavista.
For 2010 Turtle Foundation is expanding patrols and protection to two additional beaches – Boa Esperanca in the north and Varandinha Beach in the southwest. Field camps have been set up to allow a permanent presence on the beach during nesting season, and a data collection program and turtle tagging program is being initiated. Turtle Foundation will again rely on volunteer participation to implement our patrols.
Turtle Foundation also spends a great deal of time and effort on community education and involvement. We conduct turtle biology/conservation presentations, sponsor art and educational programs for school children, organize beach clean-ups, provide training sessions for tour agencies for turtle walks, and other community events and will continue these activities.
Turtle Foundation is also one of the founding members of the newly-formed Cape Verde Sea Turtle Network, in cooperation with other NGO’s, university research organizations, the Cape Verde Ministries of Environment, Land Planning and Marine Resources, the Institute for Development of Fisheries, and local conservation organizations. We are already working together on standardizing research and data collection methods, and optimizing a national strategy for efficient beach patrols.
Our short-term goal is to reduce or completely stop the killing of the turtles. Our long-term goal is to create a sustainable protection program that benefits not only the turtles but the local community in the form of jobs in tourism, resource management, etc.
For more information:
Facebook page “Turtle Foundation Cabo Verde”
By Reisa Latorra …………..