SOS Tartarugas works in Cape Verde protecting nesting loggerheads turtles (Caretta caretta) and their habitat. Cape Verde is the third most important nesting area for loggerheads in the world. Turtles are at risk from hunting for meat, stealing of eggs, removal of sand for building and unregulated tourism development. Our email is
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nice feedback from our lovely visitors

It's always great to know that your work is appreciated so here are a few emails we have received from recent visitors to Sal.

Sent: 15 September 2011 19:02
To: Neal Clayton
Subject: Re: Muckel the turtle

Thanks for the mail ... It was really impressive to see how loving you all you care about the turtles.
It's good to know that you are. We hope to hear from you again.
Good luck and see you soon,

Wolfgang and Ilona

Sent: 18 September 2011 08:14
To: 'Neal Clayton'
Subject: AW: Schildi the turtle

Hello SOS-Tartarugas-Team!
Thanks for photos and help to save our envirement. It’s a very important job for th world.
Best regards from Austria.
Sent: 21 September 2011 10:49
To: Neal Clayton
Subject: Re: Chayla the turtle

Hi Neal, 
            Thank you for the email on chayla, I foward it onto my neice with same name, she is 9yrs old and thinks it is awesome, Chayla took the certificate and photos to school where her teacher showed her class, her teacher have asked Chayla if they could track it, she said could'nt, so he have asked Chayla and the group on her table to do research on the turtles, I have looked on the internet and there are so many sites, I am hoping you can recomend a site that would be suitable for Chayla's age group, thank you. 

Sent: 20 September 2011 07:08
To: Neal Clayton
Subject: Re: Becki the turtle

Hi Neal,

thank you very much for the pictures.
I work in a travel agency and I will tell all my clients who go to Cabo Verde to adopt hatchlings, too!

Have a nice day.

Best regards


Precious words like these help to keep the Rangers going when the work is tough and the hours are very long!  Thanks everyone.

Free the quad!

One of the biggest challenges of the project is reliable transport.  Both in terms of our own and also finding taxi and pick up drivers who are willing to work at night (and don't fall asleep when they are supposed to be collecting people for patrol!)

During the first couple of years we relied on one quad which somehow made it through to Year 4 until it was stolen.  In Year 3 this was supplemented by the purchase of an ancient Land Rover, the only thing we could afford.  Big mistake.  Charming it may be but reliable it isn't.  It has definitely spent more time sitting rusting outside the house than actually on the road.

This year we splashed out, took out a loan and bought a pick up - second hand but still in pretty good shape.  Must be us then because that has also spent an unfeasible amount of time in the garage.  Since good mechanics are hard to come by each time a vehicle goes to a garage we know it is going to come back with the original problem fixed (maybe) but one or two additional problems caused by not putting it back together properly!
Innocent of all crimes but locked up in the port
The final frustration this year involves the purchase of a quad bike from the UK.  Here it is pictured in April in the yard of the dealer.  And that is the last time we have seen it.  A normally smooth import process has been turned into a deluge of paperwork and confusion and the quad has been sitting in the dock at Palmeira since June, effectively missing the entire season for which is was bought.  The problem?  The quad was used on a farm in Wales and not road registered, therefore there was a suspicion that it was stolen since no papers existed from the relevant UK authority.  Not only that but the dealer put the wrong chassis number on the original paperwork!  Thank goodness for Cape Verde Imports's endless patience and efficiency with the process or I might really have gone mad.

Yesterday I took another (hopefully final) trip into Espargos to sign the 'last' piece of paper and now am hopeful that we may see the quad this side of Christmas.  There's still a small amount of time for it to be useful!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Second wave of turtles arrives in Sal

At this time of year, Week 15 of our nesting season, we are all thankful that the activity starts to die down a little, there are less hunters on the beach and we don't need to work as hard.  Naturally we also have a smaller team than we would do at the peak of the season.

Not this year though!  We have the decreased number of Rangers that we usually have but the amount of turtle tracks and nests has risen this week, not declined!

As you can see by the graph above, in every other year by the 18 September the line is going down.    The red line, whic shows 2011 is going UP instead - we had almost a 50% increase in tracks this week compared to last.

On top of that, during the last week, we have also seen lots of untagged turtles.  Normally we would expect to be seeing the same turtles that we have seen all season and have therefore already tagged.

Just goes to show that no amount of planning will ever prepare us for what the turtles have in store!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SOS participates in Sustainable Tourism Workshop

What is sustainable tourism?  One definition could be minimising negative impacts tourism has on the destination while maximising the benefits for the local population.  Benefits could include better standards of living, employment, improvements in health care and infrastructure. 

In a workshop organised by TUI and held at the RIU Funana yesterday, delegates considered whether tourism has had a negative or positive impact on Sal so far and how to improve the situation.  Some of the negative impacts identified included
  • destruction of the environment (erosion of the main beach, aesthetic qualities lost due to construction)
  • increase in sexual tourism
  • increases in crime
Algodoeiro beach during construction of Melia Tortuga
Delegates, including the Minister for Tourism & other government officials, several associations and representatives from hotels and tour operators also considered threats to the development of tourism and what interventions could be used to limit these threats.

The Minister for Tourism opens the meeting
Almost every factor that restricts tourism on Sal seemed to come back to a combination of lack of political will and a lack of investment in infrastructure.  It was agreed that there was a need for more investment in facilities such as health care, security from crime (for tourists and residents), education and training, improvements in roads and more secure supplies of water, electricity and sanitation.  Time was also spent discussing the need to increase the understanding of 'service' as opposed to 'hospitality', since despite the welcome and warmth tourists receive, the service can be quite poor.

Of course on Sal, many people consider that no benefit is brought at all to the local economy and population through All Inclusive hotels.

It is hard to say if at the end of this initiative, which is being organised by TUI with The Travel Foundation, there will be any positive changes.  A lot seems to hang on whether the government will take the initiative or not or whether TUI and other companies will enter into Public/Private Partnerships in order to stimulate the much needed improvements to this island.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Driving on the beach

We are relatively lucky on Sal that since we started work in 2008 the majority of quad & car rental companies supported the campaign to stop driving on beaches.

Driving on any beach at any time of the year is illegal since it damages the fragile coastal and dune ecosystems.  More specifically it causes problems for nesting turtles by destroying nests and compacting the sand and making it impossible for turtles to dig nests.  Moreover, it creates ruts that turtle hatchlings cannot find their way out of.  Even worse, during hatching season there is a real possibility of killing baby turtles by driving over them.
Killed by a quad bike driving illegally on a beach
Caboquad, based in Santa Maria have stickers on all their quads stating it is illegal to drive on beaches and there on 'No Vehicle' signs on all the beaches, yet despite that, some people choose to ignore the law.

However it is nothing compared to the wholesale disregard for this law that is happening on Boa Vista.  Our colleagues from Turtle Foundation report that "guides serving the Marine Club in Sal Rei drove at least 8 cars through Curral Velho beach, destroying nests on their way to the nearby beach of João Barrosa, ironically to show nesting turtles at night time..."  (Read more here)

Publicity photo from Quadland's website
It's really sad that companies such as Quadland feel no shame in actively promoting driving on the beach and thereby destroying the natural beauty of Boa Vista which is the very thing that tourists want to see.

Time for a wake up call maybe?

If you go on an excursion please object if you are taken on the beach (there are plenty of routes at the back of the beach) and report the offenders to the police or to Turtle Foundation.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Turtle Festival / Festival das Tartarugas

What an amazing morning we had on Tuesday.  More than 100 children and numerous adults paraded through the streets of Santa Maria in celebration of Cabo Verde's turtle heritage.  One of the final events of our summer education programme, the children, who came from Santa Maria, Espargos and Palmeira, had worked hard to prepare turtle costumes to wear.  The final touch was having turtle motifs painted on their faces by SOS Rangers and volunteers.

Led by Tojo and the drumming group, Raios Vermelhas everyone walked, skipped and danced through the streets much to the delight of both residents and visitors.  The children also distributed information about why improper lighting affects turtles so much.

Many thanks to our partners Châ Matias, Noz Kasa and the community of Palmeira for making this such a special day.

Please follow these links for video and photos of the day:
A short video from national television RTC
Photos of the parade
Photos of the summer programme

RTC will broadcast a programme about SOS Tartarugas tonight (2nd September) at 19h.