The Network of Marine Protected Areas of West Africa (RAMPAO) has developed in collaboration with the Association Chelonee, the “Training manual for the conservation of marine turtles in West Africa”. The manual, inspired by conservation success stories and indigenous knowledge, aimed at MPA managers and conservation stakeholder, fills important gaps in marine turtle conservation, which were previously identified by the members of the RAMPAO network.
This beautifully illustrated manual doesn’t leave any stones unturned when it comes to marine turtles. After providing a description of the 6 species of marine turtles that are found in the areas covered by the RAMPAO network, it delves into the habitats, diets and life cycle of each of the species. In addition, aimed at empowering marine turtle practitioners and facilitating the effective protection of these key species, the manual provides instructions for monitoring every life stage of such species, from nesting female counts, to setting up a hatchery and determining the hatcheries incubation success rate. The manual also tackles the main threats faced by marine turtles, mainly in the form of entanglement in fishing gear, as nets and seines as well, longlines and industrial trawlers are all methods used in and around the MPAs.
In an effort to raise awareness on the value of protecting and conserving sea turtles, and to contribute to the decrease in the practice of subsistence hunting of sea turtles (for their meat, carapace, and eggs) by providing an alternative livelihood, RAMPAO, through this manual, provides detailed information on how to develop ecotourism micro-project. All the proposed initiatives, which include guided walks to spot nesting turtles, visitor centers and turtle snorkels, are all developed through a bottom-up approach, with the local community at its heart. This process creates awareness and stewardship of the crucial need for sea turtle conservation, while also bringing important socio-economic benefits to the local communities.
Echoing the cooperative nature of the RAMPAO network, and to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and data, the appendix of this manual brings together all the data collection forms, thus creating a standardised method to record marine turtle data in West Africa, an important first step in creating a crucial sea turtle data bank for the region.