Turtle conservation in Mozambique
Cabo Delagdo in northern Mozambique is one of the last places along the East African Coast where marine habitats remain largely unexplored and unspoilt.
The Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project was initiated in 1998, as a partnership between ZSL and a group of private individuals, in order to ensure the conservation of most diverse and pristine coastal areas in the northern Querimbas.
Within the marine environment our main project aims to protect and monitor the endangered green and hawksbill turtles.
Preliminary coastal surveys in 2001 revealed the presence of nesting marine turtles on the beaches within the study area, and identified the primary threat to the nesting populations as being itinerant fishermen who were increasingly coming to the area and poaching nests and killing all the egg-laying turtles.
It was also identified that the local communities entirely disapproved of the itinerant fishers’ presence but had no means to prevent them fishing in the area.
In 2002, the Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project gave logistical support to help the government and local authorities remove illegal itinerant fishermen from the main turtle nesting beaches on Vamizi and Rongui Islands.
This has also allowed the initiation of a community-based turtle project that aims to promote the restoration and survival of a healthy marine turtle population in the Western Indian Ocean through the following objectives:
- Protect nesting turtles and clutches and improve hatching success
- Determine turtle breeding populations in the project area and investigate the factors affecting hatching success, such as seasonality of incubation periods and effect of temperature
- Identify and survey turtle foraging grounds in the project area to research the demography and distribution of foraging populations
- Develop regional capacity for turtle conservation and research
To date, the project has protected over 600 nests and demonstrated that the nesting beaches are of regional significance in the Western Indian Ocean, notably for hawksbills.
The Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project focuses on sustainability: ecological through scientifically-based management, social through a partnership with the local communities, and financial through revenues derived from high quality tourism.