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, June 30, 2011

Kids ask everyone to recycle

As part of World Ocean Day SOS Tartarugas in conjunction with Escola Kim Barbosa initiated a project to encourage recycling and the proper disposal of rubbish. 

As an island, Sal has limited ways to dispose of rubbish and litter and debris is becoming an increasing problem as both a health hazard and an eyesore.

The kids at the school in Santa Maria made rubbish bins from found materials and decorated them with environmental themes.  The children demonstrated great creativity and understanding of the problem.  The bins are on display in the Cultural Centre in Santa Maria this week and will move to the Library in Espargos next week.

You can see more photos here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New cafe opens in Monte Gorde, São Nicolau sponsored by SOS

The beautiful park of Monte Gorde in São Nicolau is visited by many tourists, but unfortunately there are no facilities for them, so they simply pass through the small village and the community receives no benefit from their visit .  Encouraged by the Peace Corps Volunteer living there, one enterprising individual has decided to open a cafe and to produce home made jams to sell to visitors. 

SOS Tartarugas was delighted to be asked to participate in this project and sponsored the menus and labels for the products.  In this way we can help the community and also get across a message about the need to preserve nature and the community has a way to generate income to help improve conditions.

Assisting the community in Pedra de Lume

Last week SOS met members of the community association in Pedra de Lume in the second phase of a project to improve conditions for people living there.

Sr Jorge, association secretary takes notes as SOS discusses Palmeira community needs
The first phase, in 2010, was a period of consultation where communities living in Sal were invited to tell us what they thought about turtle conservation and whether they believed it was relevant and necessary.  Happily the vast majority believed that it was important to preserve nature and in particular the endangered and emblematic turtles that they view as part of the national patrimony.  However, few people could see why they should get involved and in what way this could happen.

The project in Pedra de Lume is a pilot to see whether the community can benefit from running and designing their own turtle conservation scheme.  It is a long-term goal of SOS Tartarugas to hand over the management of turtles to the population of Sal, since this is the only truly sustainable solution.

Next week members of the community will attend a workshop in Santa Maria where they will learn not only about turtle conservation and research techniques but also how to raise finance and how to conduct outreach and education activities.
Palmeira Association members, Claudio (far right) was chosen to lead the project and will attend next week's training workshop

Pedra de Lume is often bypassed as visitors drive through to visit the salinas ,so the community, with the help of SOS Tartarugas, will try to design an attraction such as a museum or visitor's centre to raise money that will benefit all residents.  SOS Tartarugas will also help the community to apply for grants.

An excellent example of this kind of programme can be seen in Cruzinha da Garça on Santo Antão, which began a conservation project in partnership with INDP & SOS Tartarugas.  After three years of hard work the community association received funding from the UN GEF Small Grants programme and went on to win the Equator Prize which "is designed to shine a spotlight on these leading grassroots efforts by celebrating them on an international stage."  You can read more information about the project here.  SOS Tartarugas also supports community projects on São Vicente, Fogo, São Nicolau, Maio & Santiago.

Rufina, from the fishing community of Cruzinha da Graça visits SOS Tartarugas to learn about hatchery management

We hope to help the community of Pedra de Lume to emulate these fantastic achievements while at the same time preserving Cabo Verde's heritage for generations to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lucky escape for a turtle in Santiago

What a great story this is.  A turtle was being carried off to be killed but the hunters were seen by the police.  Thankfully she was saved and was returned to the sea earlier today, exhausted but able to swim to safety.

It's the first time I have heard of such an intervention in Santiago and would love to think that the Nha Terra campaign workshops for the authorities contributed in some small part to this rescue. 

Praia: Tartaruga salva pela polícia da morte iminente

English translation:

Turtle About To Die Saved by Police

It was really a close call for this sea turtle which escaped from ending up in a pan. Apparently a group of fishermen took the turtle from Gamboa beach and by chance were seen by a police van on the street. The incident occurred at around 23:00 yesterday, June 22.

The turtle was being carried by a group of fishermen who came from Gamboa beach but seeing the the National Police truck  they dropped the animal in the road near the roundabout in San Antonio and ran away.

National Police colleagues contacted the Marine Police who soon arrived at the scene The injured turtle was placed on the back of the van and was returned to the sea today.   According to a source an animal of this size could be sold for around €300.

This incident comes at a time when there is an awareness campaign for the population of Santiago on the consumption of turtles. An initiative of the National Protection of Sea Turtles in Cape Verde (TAOLA), in partnership with the Directorate General for Environment (DGA).

According to the DGA, Santiago is the island where there is the most consumption of meat.

Training underway

We are finally starting to see tracks regularly and following a great welcome meeting at Turtle House on Tuesday night, training is underway with local and international volunteers.
Learning what a nest looks like
How to find the egg chamber
Night patrols have also started and several nests have been recorded.
Romina & Ariano collect data on Serra Negra

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sal's first nest of the 2011 season

The turtles really made us wait this year!  The first track was on 3 June and then unusually, there was nothing until last night - a whole 17 days later.  Normally if a turtle didn't nest the first time she came out of the water you would expect to see another nest the next night or even later that same night - even if not a nest, a track - or something!! 

Maybe that first early turtle must have gone to another island because she doesn't seem to have nested here.

Anyway, after all this waiting and plenty of Ranger beach miles, here it is, the first nest, laid on Costa Fragata last night.

Spread the word - please, no more driving on any beach or dune.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Costa Fragata is ready now!

What a difference a few hours of picking up rubbish makes.  The south end of Costa Fragata was such an eyesore before the group of expat volunteers cleaned it up yesterday.  Thanks to Linda, Peter, Nathan, Betania, Janice, Rosi, Marta, Sarah, Holly, Jeanette, Nicky, Cheryl, Gemma, Sarah, Sean, Tony & family, Neal.  The dogs were a bit overenthusiastic but other than that it was a great morning! 

Before : completely covered in plastic bottles and bags and fishing net

After: Nice safe place to nest

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Destined for the cooking pot ......

We love happy endings and we especially love stories that end with turtles going back in the sea instead of in the cooking pot!

By a happy coincidence a resident of Santiago heard on the radio an item about the Taola Nha Terra campaign and shortly met a neighbour who had acquired a turtle and didn't know what to do with it.

We contacted the Nha Terra campaign coordinator in Santiago, Peace Corps Volunteer, Jon Berg, who, on finding no one in authority was available, jumped in a car and headed north to see what was going on.
The first in her family to take a ride in a car
It turned out that a resident of Achada de Punta, purchased the juvenile green turtle from a fisherman for 1000$ CVE (€10/£6) in order to set him free.  The turtle almost certainly was going to be dinner at some point had she not done this.  Having obtained the turtle she didn't know what the best thing to do for the turtle's welfare was.

Happily Jon was able to release it on the beach in Pedra Badejo.

Heading back to the sea at Pedra Badejo
Even better, the lovely lady is also keen to start a sea turtle conservation group in her town!   Stories like these really show that the tide is turning in favour of conserving turtles, even in small rural communities.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

You know the turtle season has started when.....

.....  your phone rings at all kinds of odd times of day. 

Yesterday early in the morning Nicky Salvini phoned me to say that her sister, Patrizia was on the beach of Costa Fragata and thought she had found something that looked like a turtle track.  Rushing over there I met Pat on her way back.  From what she described (scoops in out of the sand going round in circles and back down to the water) it could only be one thing.  Our first track of the season! 

Up track
This is the earliest track we have recorded on Sal and fooled almost everyone who entered our sweepstake competition.  Everyone that is, except Betania, the first Ranger to arrive, who correctly guessed that the first turtle would show up on the same day as she did!  Instead of having the honour of the first nest in the hatchery, Betania has chosen a head-torch as her prize since she forgot to bring her own (whoops!)

There was no nest, the turtle only had a bit of a wander around, but we anticipate finding either another track or a nest this morning in the same area.

The dogs help to identify the down track

Friday, June 3, 2011

The hatchery's up, the turtles must be near

In a stunning display of speed, strength and organisational skills this tiny SOS Tartarugas team built the main hatchery in record time.

From nothing to completely built in only two hours.  Amazing!  It normally takes us the best part of two days.

What's the secret Peter?

More photos here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Nha Terra" campaign launched in Praia

The island of Santiago is the largest consumer of turtle meat and illegal imports from other islands is common.

To counter this, this summer there will be a large scale awareness campaign to alert the population to the fact that turtles are on the brink of extinction in Cabo Verde.  The campaign comprises of public events in Praia, São Francisco, Ciadade Velha, Tarrafal, Pedra Badjo, Calheta & Assomoda.

In addition, workshops for the authorities (Police, port authorities, airport security, Câmara Municipais & judiciary) to discuss the laws relating to turtles and to encourage more rigorous application.

The theme of the campaign "Nha Terra" focuses on turtles being a part of the country's heritage and important to preserve for future generations.  In addition they are migratory, just like a large percentage of the Capeverdean population and they have a right to return to a safe place to give birth.

The campaign was launched in Praia by the batukaderas of Delta Cultura (Tarrafal, Santiago) who have written a special song to support the campaign.