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Project Fano

Piloted community-led conservation research on loggerhead turtles ("Fano" in Malagasy) nesting in Sainte Luce through data collection and community sensitisation.

Summary

  • Status: Completed
  • Date: November 2017-March 2018  
  • Target population: Community of Sainte Luce
  • Location: Sainte Luce, Anosy region, southeast Madagascar
  • Project partners: local community, and organisations involved in conservation in the Sainte Luce area

Why was it important?

Commercial fishing, habitat degradation, climate change, and direct harvesting of eggs and turtles have limited the recovery of many marine turtle populations and continue to threaten many others. Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) have an IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status of Vulnerable and have suffered from significant declines due to the over harvesting of adults and eggs, causing many populations to be at risk of local extinction. Research on loggerhead turtles in Madagascar, which form part of the Southwest Indian Ocean regional subpopulation is severely data deficient. This undermines the reliability of population estimates, trends and conservation status.

Nonetheless, available research is worrying, highlighting continued harvesting of loggerheads and suggesting declines in the local population. At more than 40 sites in Madagascar with previous history of nesting turtles, there has been no evidence of nesting since 2000. Furthermore, along a 96km rookery (nesting site) in the southeast of Madagascar, in which Project Fano will operate, the number of nests observed fell from 67 to 23 between the 1998/9 and 2001/2 nesting seasons, supporting fisher perceptions of long term declines.

Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) have suffered from significant declines due to the over harvesting of adults and eggs and as such, many populations are at risk of local extinction.

Bjorndal et al., 2003

Project activities

Project Fano worked within Ste Luce’s three fokontany, in the Mahatalaky commune.  The hamlet of Manafiafy sits adjacent to the turtle nesting beach, where eggs and nesting females have historically been harvested. Through community, stakeholder and Turtle Conservation Committee-led meetings, a community established management plan was implemented. Through Project Fano, SEED trained and employed 10 guides from the community-led Turtle Conservation Committee, to monitor nesting populations and hatchling success on the 6km nesting beach in Manafiafy, daily from November 2017-March 2018. Capacity building of the Turtle Conservation Committee allowed monitoring can be continued in the future.

In collaboration with the Turtle Conservation Committee, SEED piloted collecting research on nesting loggerhead turtles in the Southwest Indian Ocean. This established an unprecedented data set and increased understanding of the nesting loggerhead turtle population and nesting success in Sainte Luce.

Project Fano approached conservation holistically and included community meetings to discuss marine and turtle conservation issues and also an education programme for school-aged children in Sainte Luce.