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Turtle Foundation's mission is the worldwide protection and conservation of endangered sea turtles, focusing on small, realizable projects with a high probability of success. Turtle Foundation directly intervenes to protect sea turtles from illegal slaughter and nests from illegal poaching, and works with local communities to provide education regarding sea turtles and alternative methods of obtaining income, from tourism, local crafts, and other opportunities.
The Turtle Foundation was founded in 2000 in Germany and currently has additional branch operations in Switzerland, Indonesia, the United States, and a representative in Cape Verde. The mission of the organization is the worldwide protection of marine turtles, focusing on practical and concrete aspects of species protection. The Turtle Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, funded primarily through private donations, foundations, and grants.
Turtle Foundation currently operates a nesting ground protection program for Chelonia mydas on three uninhabited islands in the Berau islands off the coast of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The total number of nests on the three islands is approximately 6000 per year. This project began in 2000 on one island, and has since expanded to include other islands in the region. Turtle Foundation also partly finances and supports a turtle protection program of the Indonesian species protection organization ProFauna, targeting the trade of turtle meat on the island of Bali.
In 2008, Turtle Foundation began a protection and conservation program in Cape Verde, West Africa, in response to reports received in 2007 of large-scale slaughter of nesting female Loggerhead turtles. The poachers’ methods of killing the turtle are incredibly brutal and horrifying. This is not only about animal conservation but also about animal protection and preventing animal cruelty. Over 1100 turtles were documented killed, according to a research NGO called Natura2000 working in the area.
In 2008, Turtle Foundation sent personnel to Boavista Island, where up to 90% of Cape Verde's turtles nest, to establish, with support from soldiers with the Cape Verdean military, a monitoring presence on Porto Ferreira beach, one of the main nesting beaches. In 2007, over 600 turtles were killed on this beach alone. IN 2008, AS A RESULT OF TURTLE FOUNDATION’S PROTECTION, ONLY 60 TURTLES WERE IDENTIFIED AS KILLED ON THIS BEACH, REPRESENTING A 90% REDUCTION IN MORTALITY.
In 2009 Turtle Foundation’s protection program was expanded, with 4 beaches being patrolled and protected by Turtle Foundation, again with the support from the Cape Verde military and this time also with the invaluable participation of international volunteers.
The data for the 2009 nesting season shows that the patrols and protection have been tremendously successful in reducing turtle mortality. IN 2009, ONLY 42 TURTLES WERE DOCUMENTED AS KILLED ON OUR PROTECTED BEACHES. However, this increased the hunting pressure on as-yet unprotected beaches, resulting in approximately 220 turtles killed in 2009.
For 2010 Turtle Foundation plans to expand patrols and protection to two additional beaches - Boa Esperanca in the north and Varandinha Beach in the southwest. With sufficient funding and resources, a data collection program and turtle tagging program will also be initiated. Turtle Foundation will again rely on volunteer participation to implement our patrols.
Turtle Foundation also spends a great deal of time and effort on community education and involvement. We conduct turtle biology/conservation presentations, sponsor art and educational programs for school children, organize beach clean-ups, provide training sessions for tour agencies for turtle walks, and other community events and will continue these activities.
Turtle Foundation is also a founding member of the newly-formed Cape Verde Sea Turtle Network, in cooperation with other NGO’s, university research organizations, the Cape Verde Ministries of Environment, Land Planning and Marine Resources, the Institute for Development of Fisheries, and local conservation organizations. We are already working together on standardizing research and data collection methods, and optimizing a national strategy for efficient beach patrols.
Our short-term goal is to reduce or completely stop the killing of the turtles. Our long-term goal is to create a sustainable protection program that benefits not only the turtles but the local community in the form of jobs in tourism, resource management, etc.
Additional information regarding Turtle Foundation’s history, personnel, and projects may be found on our website at www.turtle-foundation.org, and on our public Facebook profile: Turtle Foundation - Cabo Verde.
- Reisa Latorra
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