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Cape Verde reports record nesting figures for loggerhead sea turtles

With the support of RIU Hotels & Resorts, two Cape Verdean environmental conservation organisations, Projeto Biodiversidade and BIOS CV, have contributed to the greatest number of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests ever recorded in the history of Cape Verde. In total, Projeto Biodiversidade recorded 15,000 new nests of this turtle in 2018, four times as many as in 2016, and 96% up on last year. For its part, BIOS CV in Boa Vista recorded 14,598 nests, a figure three times greater than that of 2017.

This season, from 11 June to mid November, is the third consecutive year with record spawning on the island of Sal, with 14,940 nests belonging to 2,939 female loggerhead turtles. Each female makes five nests every season. The NGO has also managed to release 98,195 sea turtle hatchlings from the hatcheries, 12 times greater than the figure in 2015, Projeto Biodiversidade’s first year.

According to data provided by the Cape Verdean association, the most popular nesting areas on the island of Sal are Costa da Fragata with 30% of the nests, Serra Negra, which has the greatest density of nests with 2.4 per metre of beach, and Algodoeiro. A total of 194 turtles were captured in 2018, 183 of which were taken by poachers and 11 were rescued. To protect nests that are in a poor condition or a dangerous location, the association moves them to various hatcheries on the island of Sal. This is the case of the nests on the RIU hotels’ beach which have been relocated to Projeto Biodiversidade’s largest hatchery, where it monitors 71% of the NGO’s 1,958 rehomed nests.

As regards Boa Vista, this year BIOS CV, with the support of RIU Hotels, has identified a total of 14,598 nests of 2,795 female loggerhead turtles on João Barrosa beach. This year the season ran from 20 May to 25 November and 64,528 turtle hatchlings were released from monitored hatcheries. In total, it is estimated that 309,665 turtle hatchlings were born on the five kilometres of João Barrosa beach in 2018.

It’s very important to highlight that no adult females were captured this year, although five turtles did die from natural causes. A total of 60 lost females in grave mortal danger in the vicinity of the beach were rescued from wetlands, undergrowth and rocky areas. BIOS CV has monitored 3,411 nesting activities, identifying 2,795 different turtles, of which 1,914 were tagged for the first time. After the extension of the controlled hatcheries supported by RIU Hotels, the NGO has recorded 1,065 nests, 7.3% of the total. Lastly, at the Cabral beach hatchery, 91 nests from the beaches of the capital (Estoril, Chaves and Cabral) have been monitored and 5,997 turtle hatchlings were released and reached the sea.

Besides maintaining the hatcheries, RIU Hotels finances the structural expenses of the NGOs and collaborates in supporting the volunteers, as well as in other environmental activities with tour operators and customers. The hotels also comply with NGO recommendations so as not to alter the species’ environmental habitat.

All in all these are wonderful results considering that the loggerhead turtles on Cape Verde are the third largest population of this species in the world, which at the same time is also one of the 11 most endangered sea turtle populations on the planet. RIU Hotels, BIOS CV and Projeto Biodiversidade are thus strengthening an alliance that started in 2011 and 2016 respectively, in order to protect the wildlife of Cape Verde through plans to protect the environment and the ecosystem of the Sal island and Boa Vista archipelago.

About Projeto Biodiversidade (Project Biodiversity): Projeto Biodiversidade is a Cape Verdean non-profit organisation committed to the protection of wildlife through community-driven environmental protection plans in Sal, Cape Verde. This organisation works to support biodiversity, and its objective is to develop sustainable conservation projects that will inspire others to care for the natural environment around them. The NGO focuses mainly on protection and conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), listed internationally as an endangered species, which nests on the island from June to October. Its team of local rangers, biologists and environmental experts in the field and volunteers, works tenaciously during this time to ensure that these animals are protected from poachers and other human threats that, unfortunately, still represent a significant danger to the survival of this species on the island and throughout Cape Verde.

About BIOS Cabo Verde: The members of the BIOS.CV team have been involved in environmental conservation and research for 19 years. In this time, they have contributed significantly to knowledge of the marine biodiversity of the archipelago and collaborated with national authorities in drafting laws to protect species and habitats and in the development of management plans for the conservation of endangered marine species. Its conservation activities have been focused on monitoring the nesting beaches of the common sea turtle (Caretta caretta) which have a high density of nests. Within this framework it has been possible to train hundreds of Cape Verdean and international volunteers on field work and to provide training programmes for tourist guides and environmental rangers. BIOS.CV also carries out monitoring and conservation activities for the osprey of Boa Vista, as well as for the population of North Atlantic humpback whales, which spawn in Cape Verde, in addition to maintaining a register of strandings of cetaceans on the island of Boa Vista. Through its environmental education and awareness-raising activities, it communicates to Cape Verdeans and the tourists who visit the island of Boa Vista the importance of protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainable development practices in the tourism industry and in other economic activities.

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