The turtle season in Mozambique has officially ended and although its off-season there is still progress happening behind the scenes (see our new report in the publications tab). So although it appears like complete radio silence here at #tartarugasparaoamanha, I’ve actually been quite busy attending two conferences and a trainings workshop. I thought I’d just give you a quick update on what’s been happing over the past few months!
As some of you may know, the majority of research funding for this project comes from the Rufford Foundation, who have been backing our work for the past couple of years. The Rufford Foundation support an impressive array of conservation themed projects (3070 according to their website) in 148 countries, mine included. Given the global scope of the Foundation they thought it would be beneficial to gather grantees from similar regions for an opportunity to network and inform each other about their projects as well as to discuss wins/loses and useful techniques, facts and logistics. So in April, I headed down to Cape Town, South Africa for the “Southern African Rufford Foundation Conference” which was organised alongside the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and hosted at the SANBI Kirstenbosch research centre, with the impressive Table Mountain range peaks in the background.
We heard from thirty different conservationists across two day line up, with special keynote talks from Yolan Friedmann, CEO of the EWT, Dr Jim Taylor, director of environmental education, WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) and Professor Ray Jansen, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria and Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group.
From white sharks, indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins, african wild dogs, anatolian dogs as conservation aids, sardine population connectivity, Leopards, cheetah, brown hyenas, Oribi, white-backed vultures, nile crocodiles, conseravation plannign for Mozambican elephants, details on ethnomedicial use of Ghanan pangolins, Namibian Mountain zebras, Knysna Seahorse, Cape Lowland critically endangered vegetation communities, Sun gazer lizards, Southern Ground-Hornbills, Underwater habitat mapping in False Bay, establishing cultural use street gardens that benefit conservation, invasive and native fresh water fish tropic niches and genetic diversity, and finally to educational outreach initiatives in Zimbabwe. The scope of talks were broad in both the regions and the taxa they covered. Key ideas that were raised from this workshop were the need for disciplinary projects to address the varied nature of threats in order to conserve a particular species, taxa, ecosystem or protected area. It was also hopeful to hear the number of project coordinating their research or management efforts with citizen science and outreach programs.
I am highly grateful to have been invited to speak at this unique event and I presented a broad scoping talk introducing the varied audience to both the conservation issues facing sea turtles in Mozambique and some of our research, outreach activities. Conservation can be quite a hard field to work in, things take a long time and often it feels like progress moves backwards instead of forwards. However it is events like this, keep us all going, it’s important especially when most of us work in remote and isolated location for everyone can get together, share their wins, current struggles and bounce ideas of future plans or alternative approaches to overcome a ongoing issue. Overall, two days of interesting talks, conversations and brainstorming were had and I left Cape Town with many new contacts, ideas and a renewed sense of enthusiasm to continue the battle to improve the conservation status of Mozambique’s sea turtles.