A WWF survey has discovered several marine turtle nesting sites on the beaches of Senegal, prompting calls from conservationists to improve protection of the endangered species.
The survey — conducted by WWF staff, Senegalese wildlife officials and the local community between July and September — discovered nine new green turtle nests on the beaches of Joal-Fadiouth in the Saloum Delta south of the capital, Dakar.
Turtle tracks in the sand left by female turtles were also discovered at nearby Palmarine Beach as well as at Langue de Barbarie at the mouth of the Senegal River in the northern part of the country.
“The nests confirm that these beaches are important nesting sites and must be protected,” said Dr Mamadou Diallo, WWF Senegal’s programme manager for species.
“Even beaches with tracks but no nests are important to protect as they are potential nesting sites.”
In Joal-Fadiouth, where the nine nests were found, each was marked and enclosed with wire mesh to protect them from predators.
Thanks to a broadly supported public awareness campaign, illegal turtle capture and consumption has dropped by over 80% in Joal-Fadiouth.
"By protecting the nesting beaches, we not only help conserve this rare species but also provide the basis to develop sustainable tourism to watch these rare turtles in their natural setting,” Dr Diallo added.
In October and November, as hatching time draws near, the surveillance teams will work all night to take photographs and count the hatchlings as they find their way back to the sea.
In addition to green turtles, the waters of Senegal, and the greater West African Marine Ecoregion, are also home to other marine turtle species, including the loggerhead, hawksbill, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley and leatherback.
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