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SEED Madagascar

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Project Fano

Aim = To pilot community-led conservation research on loggerhead turtles nesting in Sainte Luce through data collection and community sensitisation

Summary

•    Status: Current
•    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 is 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 Redlist 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

What we're doing

Project Fano will work 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 will be implemented. Through Project Fano, SEED will train and employ 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 will ensure monitoring can be continued in the future.

In collaboration with the Turtle Conservation Committee, SEED will pilot research collected on nesting loggerhead turtles in the Southwest Indian Ocean. This will establish an unprecedented data set and increase understanding of the nesting loggerhead turtle population and nesting success in Sainte Luce.

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