Protecting endangered loggerhead sea turtles


This 2014 video is about baby loggerhead turtles hatching on Kuriat island in Tunisia.

From BirdLife:

From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, turtle conservation overcoming similar challenges

By Shaun Hurrell, Thu, 12/02/2015 – 16:40

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is funding three projects that are protecting Endangered loggerhead sea turtles

An uninhabited island with beautiful beaches might seem like a safe place for a rare species of turtle to nest, but Kuriat Island of Tunisia is swamped every summer by thousands of tourists. Even the fishermen who frequent the island to rest can be unaware that the island is very important for the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta – the only place in Tunisia where this Endangered species buries its eggs in the sand. Sea turtle populations are devastated from bycatch in fishing nets so any hatchlings under the sand need all the help they can get to reach the sea.

This is why a local conservation group called ‘Association des Fans de la Chebba (AFC)’, partnered by Notre Grand Bleu (NGB) and funded by CEPF, is working to raise awareness of the plight of the turtles, and has successfully gathered support from fishermen in the Chebba region of Tunisia and visiting tourists.

Realising a daily presence was needed during nesting and tourist season, and having marked nests on the beach for their protection, AFC and NGB constructed a cabin providing information and flyers to best educate the two target audiences. By providing clear explanations and advice, the project has turned the unexpected emergence of turtles from the sand (prone to accidental destruction) into a wonderful wildlife spectacle for tourists – some of whom now voluntarily help hatchlings reach the sea. Watch their video [above]!

Over 100 artisanal fishermen have been introduced to measures to prevent the accidental capture of adult turtles. But if accidentally caught, they are being eaten. At a scale where a few hundred are caught each year here in nets, this educational project could eliminate turtle bycatch in Tunisia before a black market for their illegal meat grows.

In three months, over 4000 national and foreign tourists, plus around 100 artisanal fishermen visited the cabin. Over 500 children attended in a special organised visit, a great success for the project and great hope for the future of Kuriat Island as a protected area and location for sustainable tourism.

Following protected hatchling loggerhead sea turtles into the Mediterranean Sea, we head south-west into the Atlantic Ocean, where the islands of Cape Verde face very similar challenges for turtle conservation, albeit at a different scale. Within the remit of the CEPF Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, there are two projects currently conserving turtles in Cape Verde – world famous for its many species of turtle, and for its tourists.

Same problem, different location and scale

BIOS.CV (Association for the Conservation of the Environment and Sustainable Development) are working on a project called Environmental Initiatives to Enhance Ecofriendly Tourism in Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde. Most tourists are directed to all-inclusive resorts and are blind to the island’s wildlife, way of life, and their impact on it. Identifying the country’s current lack of regulated and sustainable tourism, BIOS.CV are working hard to raise awareness of the islands importance for wildlife, and to enhance ecotourism that will benefit the local communities. As well as developing information on the beach, they have put up posters in Boa Vista airport and are working with hotels to ensure tourists reduced impacts of turtle and bird nesting, and on the island’s biodiversity.

Cape Verde has the world’s third largest loggerhead sea turtle nesting population with 90% of the nests on Boa Vista. Most recently, BIOS.CV prepared and promoted a map for cyclists and drivers to avoid turtle nests.

“We want to show to both the local population and the tourism sector that tourism is highly dependent on effective conservation of the environment and the welfare of the local communities – and this is only possible through eco-friendly and sustainable tourism practices,” said Elena Abella from BIOS.CV.

A short hop across to Cape Verde’s nearby island of Santa Luzia, and we find another example of a CEPF project conserving turtles. As part of a major CEPF project entitled Protecting Threatened and Endemic Species in Cape Verde: A Major Island Restoration Project run by SPEA (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves; BirdLife in Portugal) and their local partner Biosfera1, like AFC in Tunisia, also have a daily presence at a nesting site to protect loggerhead sea turtles. Biosfera1 set up a camp in a National Park on the island of Santa Luzia to monitor nests, survey other biodiversity and to assess threats. All nests at risk (because they are located in flood-prone areas), are transferred into a hatchery near the camp where the eggs can complete their development.

But on Cape Verde, a further complication is that more than 500 female turtles are affected by illegal poaching and predation by feral cats each year. Again, awareness is key. Biosfera1 have set up a surveillance scheme that involves local fishermen and is monitored by staff and volunteers to prevent illegal activity.

The project has already recorded a decrease in turtle poaching during the surveillance period, but it is hoped that through Biosfera1’s work with fishermen to emphasise the value of wild turtles over those on the dinner plate, this trend will continue afterwards.

4th Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) for Tunisia found at Djerba, Gulf of Gabes


Originally posted on North African Birds:

A Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) was found at Djerba Island, Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia) on the 5th January 2015 by Italian ornithologists Andrea Corso, Michele Viganò, Chiara Sibona, Loris Golinelli and Leslie Parks. This is the 4th record for Tunisia.

Un Pluvier fauve (Pluvialis fulva) a été observé à Djerba, dans le golfe de Gabès (Tunisie) le 5 janvier 2015 par les ornithologues italiens Andrea Corso, Michele Viganò, Chiara Sibona, Loris Golinelli and Leslie Parks. C’est la 4ème observation pour la Tunisie de cette espèce rare qui se reproduit au Nord et l’Est de la Russie et l’Ouest de l’Alaska.

Andrea kindly sent us this observation along with the excellent photographs of the bird that Michele took. The following is the email of Andrea:

“Hello my friend

I am a true lover of N African birds and fauna and I visit Tunisia, Morocco, Sinai every…

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Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) at Lebna dam, Cap Bon: 2nd for Tunisia


Originally posted on North African Birds:

A Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) observed last November at Lebna Reservoir, Cap Bon, northern Tunisia by Csaba Pigniczki and Mohamed Ali Dakhli. The team were surveying the coastal wetlands of Tunisia (from Bizerte to Zarzis) to count and read the colour-rings of the wintering Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) among other things. This is the second observation of this rare species in Tunisia, the first one was in March 1975 near Tabarka.

The Sociable Lapwing is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN red list, and breeds in Russia and Kazakhstan and winters in Sudan, eastern Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan and India. It is a rare visitor to the western Mediterranean region.

Thanks to both birdwatchers for the observation!

Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious), Lebna Reservoir, Cap Bon, Tunisia Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious), Lebna Reservoir, Cap Bon, northern Tunisia (photo: Csaba Pigniczki).

Global distribution of Sociable Lapwings (Vanellus gregarious) (map: BirdLife International). Global distribution of Sociable Lapwings (Vanellus gregarious) (map: BirdLife International).

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Dutch reptiles use life-saving tunnel


This video is about reptiles in France and Tunisia.

In 2009, herpetologists designed a special wildlife corridor for reptiles and amphibians, a ‘herpetoduct‘ for nature reserve Elspeetsche Heide in the Netherlands.

It is a tunnel under the N310 motorway and a bicycle track, preventing crossing animals from being killed by traffic.

Research at various times in 2012-2014 proves much wildlife, especially lizards, use the tunnel. 16 viviparous lizards used the tunnel. Once, even at least five young viviparous lizards were born in the tunnel. Other species: four sand lizards; one slow worm; two adders; one moor frog; one European toad; one Alpine newt. Also, one smooth snake was seen.

Results of the research were published in the Zeitschrift für Feldherpetologie.

Young flamingo news from Tunisia


This video is called Greater flamingo feeding chick.

From BirdLife:

Firsts for flamingos in Tunisia

Fri, 31/10/2014 – 16:39

Story by Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund Mediterranean Hotspot Regional Implementation Team

This year, for the first time, a small colony of about one hundred Greater Flamingo nested successfully in the Korba Lagoons, northern Tunisia. Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO, BirdLife in Tunisia) quickly mobilized its members and partners to help ring 45 young flamingos, making this also the first time flamingos have been ringed in Tunisia. Ringing the flamingos was a big communual operation involving 80 people, with some volunteers wading into the lagoon to herd the birds.

The project Development of eco-tourism activities for the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas in northern Tunisia, implemented by AAO and four local Tunisian organisations, and funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), largely contributed to the discovery and monitoring of this small colony of flamingos. Through the project AAO have increased local capacity for conservation activities, and now have Local Conservation Groups (LCGs) who survey and care for key sites such as the Korba Lagoons, an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA).

This new colony is exciting for AAO, who recorded the last successful breeding of flamingos in Tunisia in 2007 at Thyna Salines.

“Flamingos often return to their nesting site to breed”, said Hichem Azafzaf, Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO). “So we hope that through our project to develop ecotourism, we can ensure that Korba Lagoons remain an attractive and biodiversity-rich wintering and breeding site for flamingos to return in the coming years.”

Ringing birds involves fitting a uniquely coded plastic coloured tag to a bird’s leg, which allows a vast network of observers to trace the bird’s movements for conservation science. Young flamingos are covered in grey feathers; it is only after 4 – 7 years that they finally develop their splendid pink plumage which they get from carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.

The Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mounir Majdoub, helped with the ringing and highlighted the importance of supporting environmental action. This operation also served to raise awareness of the importance of the lagoons and the need for the protection of critical ecosystems in the western Mediterranean.

AAO would also like to that Tour du Valat, who provided technical and scientific support; the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, who provided financial support; the Coastal Protection and Planning Agency and the Forestry Office, who provided support as managers of the site; and the Local Conservation Group, Association Tunisienne de Protection de la Nature et de l’Environnement de Korba.

BirdLife International – including its Middle East office and the BirdLife Partners DOPPS/BirdLife Slovenia and LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, BirdLife in France) – is providing the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot (CEPF Med).