Cape Verde islands bird conservation


This video says about itself:

Biosfera: Protecting the desert islands (Cape Verde: Santa Luzia, Raso, Branco)

16 June 2016

Cape Verde: a volcanic archipelago, a developing nation. 600km off the coast of West Africa.

Santa Luzia, Raso, Branco: one remote desert island and its two rocky islets are a unique remnant piece of Cape Verdean wilderness, now threatened. They must be protected:

– Thousands of nesting endemic seabirds
Raso Lark (facing extinction)
Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Vulnerable)

A passionate and dedicated team is strengthening every day to save these species and restore their remote island homes.

Biosfera, with the support of SPEA (the Portuguese Society for the Protection of Birds; BirdLife Partner), have received conservation grants from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). This video shows the progress they have made for the conservation of the desert islands and in the building up of their organisation. And of course it shows the beautiful wildlife of the islands…

Music:

Cordas do Sol (used with permission):
Rebas (Instrumental)
Lume D’Lenha
Sho Pardal
Manhe Joana

Kevin MacLeod incompetech.com (CC):

Digya
At the Shore

© BirdLife International / CEPF 2016

From BirdLife:

Winning hearts and minds in Cape Verde

By Shaun Hurrell, 19 July 2016

Conservation work in these desert islands delivers heartening, long lasting, results: “Now the fishermen work with us, they help us count the birds instead of killing them. They even adopt turtle nests. It is a big, big change.”

Piercing sun, dry, rocky ground, and a solitary ex-military canvas tent ripped bare by strong Atlantic winds. Off the rocky shore, an osprey is seen diving for a fish. In the shade, dust sprays as sparrows can be seen scuffling for water dripping from the tent’s fresh water barrel tap. This is the scene on arrival on Raso, after six hours of a sea-sickening boat ride. Not the place you’d expect to find the entire population of a Critically Endangered lark, let alone a small passionate team of conservationists there to protect it and other unique endemic species from extinction.

A volcanic archipelago 600km off the coast of West Africa, Cape Verde is a developing nation. Surrounded by sharks and coral reefs, the desert island of Santa Luzia and its two rocky islets Raso and Branco are a unique remnant piece of Cape Verdean wilderness, too remote for permanent inhabitation.

However, thousands of nesting endemic seabirds, such as the Cape Verde Shearwater; the Endangered Giant Wall Gecko, and nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Vulnerable), also make these islands their homes. But it doesn’t mean they are safe from threats.

One of the most threatened birds in the world, the Raso Lark is suffering from climate change effects, whereby hurricanes and drought can wipe out a lot of the minimal grasses on which it feeds. On this 7 km2 islet in 2006, the population dropped to 70 birds. The dedicated conservationists are a local NGO, Biosfera, who is working with the support of SPEA (the Portuguese Society for the Protection of Birds; BirdLife Partner) and volunteers to restore nearby Santa Luzia (which has similar vegetation and is much larger) for a translocation of the Raso Lark to help it bounce back to its original numbers.

Poaching is another threat. Fishermen used to come to these islands to take ‘boatloads’ of Cape Verde Shearwaters and female Loggerhead Turtles that nest on the beaches.

In the past, Tommy Melo Melo, Co-Founder of Biosfera, has camped out on Branco to protect turtles from poachers, and when his food ran out, he risked shark-infested waters to freedive for fish.

“Now the fishermen work with us,” he says. “They help us to count the birds in the nests for example.” They now even adopt turtle nests. “It was a big, big change.”

Tommy has a vision: “A huge marine protected area in Cape Verde that includes the three islands.” To reach this has so far involved years of work: from walking along beaches kilometres every day to guard nesting turtles and relocate their eggs to a hatchery to increase their chances of survival, to building the organisation’s ornithological expertise and capacity to work with government and large international conservation projects.

Thanks to the support of SPEA through grants from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Biosfera has grown and grown.

“Biosfera is a fantastic organisation,” says Pedro Geraldes, Project Coordinator, SPEA. “They started just as father and son working together to protect these islands.”

“Before we were an NGO in the name. Now we are an NGO properly,” says Tommy.

Now, they aim to work in partnership with the government to manage the marine reserve.

“We are the link between the fishermen and the government,” says Patricia Rendall-Rocha, Coordinator, Biosfera.

Recorded on a field visit by CEPF, this video [top of this blog post] shows the progress Biosfera have made for the conservation of the desert islands and in the building up of their organisation. And of course it shows the island’s beautiful wildlife.

Since the field visit, Biosfera have been awarded a follow-up grant from CEPF to continue building their capacity in financial operations and communications. Now they are conducting further field research and investigating the impact of invasive fire ants which have ended up on Raso Islet, threatening the Raso Lark and other endemic species. Tommy, Patricia and Pedro say the major translocation of the Raso Lark is within their sights.

As part of the support to grantees, the CEPF Regional Implementation Team conduct field visits, like this one to Cape Verde. In this phase of the programme, Project Officers have been on supervision missions to Algeria, Morocco, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Macedonia.

“The CEPF support and the communication with the Regional Implementation Team was really good in terms of dealing with this project’s difficulties,” said Pedro Geraldes, SPEA. “Because it is remote, some plans have to be changed and altered.”

Tiger, giant tortoise, penguin 360° Virtual Reality videos


This video series from the Netherlands says about itself:

February 2016: VR Gorilla and Dierenpark Amersfoort collaborated in creating several 360° VR experiences.

We shot footage of [African] penguins, coypus, meerkats, [Aldabra giant] tortoises and.. one big tiger! This was the main event for the day. Our plan was to place our 360° cam inside the tigers’ terrain, close to a bungee cord with a big chunk of meat attached to it. We sort of assumed the tiger would leave the camera alone and go straight for the meat. We also figured the tiger would possibly leave most of the camera intact in case it would go for it..

We were wrong on both accounts! A full-grown Siberian tiger will eat our camera like candy, and as it turns out that’s exactly what it tried to do.. Fortunately for us he didn’t succeed, with thanks to the keepers at Dierenpark Amersfoort who insisted on coming up with a back up plan to pull the camera up into safety from the tiger’s claws. We are very glad they insisted on this, since our camera survived to shoot more videos.

Help sea turtle conservation in Cuba


This video is called Green Sea Turtle release Cayo Largo Cuba 2012.

From Seeturtles.org in the USA:

Cuba Sea Turtle Volunteer Expedition

Spend a week volunteering with a sea turtle conservation project in the incredible Guanahacabibes National Park, along Cuba’s western coast. Work side by side with Cuban biologists to study and protect nests of green and loggerhead sea turtles. During the day, explore the park’s forests, reefs, and caves. This trip is a partnership between Cuba Marine Research & Conservation Program, Altruvistas, and SEE Turtles. Profits from this trip will help to save at least 500 hatchlings at this turtle nesting beach per participant.

2016 Dates: July 16 – 23 (full) / July 30 – Aug 6 (open)

Price: $2,995 per person (includes airfare from Miami – Havana; price without airfare is $2,395). Havana extension: $550 pp. Single supplement: $320.

Includes:

Roundtrip airfare from Miami to Havana ($600 value), guide, private transportation, accommodations, most meals, activities, and a donation to turtle conservation.

Excludes: Airfare to Miami, personal items, and tips for the guide/driver.

Notes:

This trip is open to American citizens through a “People to People” license given by the US State Department to our partners. It’s also open to citizens of other countries.
Minimum recommended age is 14 years old, under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult.
Group size is limited to 16 people maximum.
Discount of $50 per person for paying by check.
Payment plans can be arranged.

Environmentalists fear Americans will ruin Cuba’s biodiversity: here.

Turtle smuggling discovered in China


This video says about itself:

12 February 2012

A total of 79 illegal alien live turtles were intercepted by inspection and quarantine authorities Saturday at an airport in Shanghai, east China.

From Xinhua news agency in China today:

Thousands of smuggled turtles seized in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, Jan. 31 — Shanghai customs said Sunday they seized more than 2,000 endangered turtles last November in what could be the city’s largest turtle smuggling case.

Customs officials said they discovered large numbers of live turtles hidden in six containers of crabs imported from Indonesia on Nov. 19. The containers were claimed by a Shanghai company.

Most of the turtles were endangered species including Amboina box turtle, pig-nosed turtle and spotted pond turtle.

The turtles are now in the care of local zoos, officials said.

The customs did not give more details, saying the investigation was still underway.

Environmentalists have warned China’s rising market for rare and exotic pets, such as turtles and snakes, has fueled smuggling.

Vietnamese mourn rare turtle’s death


This video from Vietnam is called Turtle of Hoàn Kiếm lakeHanoi. Seen the 30th December 2010.

From the BBC in Britain today:

Cu Rua: Vietnam mourns revered Hanoi turtle

By Nga Pham BBC News, Bangkok

Vietnam is mourning an ancient turtle revered as a symbol of auspiciousness, whose death has shocked the country.

Thought to be one of only four living Yangtze giant softshell turtles, it was found floating in the Hanoi lake where it lived. Cause of death is unclear. …

The reptile – known as Cu Rua (great-grandfather) – will now be embalmed.

“Cu” is the Vietnamese word used to refer to old and revered people, giving some indication of the special place he occupied in the hearts of Hanoi’s inhabitants.

And not only Hanoians – people from all over the country also used to come to Hoan Kiem lake in Vietnam’s capital to try to catch a glimpse of him. Some even waited for days.

Social media in Vietnam has been flooded with posts lamenting his death, which came on a gloomy windy and wintry Tuesday afternoon.

Facebook user Nguyen Viet Nam said: “The turtle was a sacred animal for us Hanoians. Such sadness, such regret.” …

Douglas Hendrie, a Hanoi-based wildlife expert, says Cu Rua was one of only four known living specimens of his kind in the world.

“But more than that, the turtle also had a significant historical, cultural and spiritual value for the Vietnamese,” he adds.

Legend has it that the turtle – believed to be more than 100 and the oldest in Vietnam – was the incarnation of a mythical creature living in the lake in the 15th century.

Local legend has it that Le Loi, a real figure from Vietnamese history who would become emperor of Vietnam, borrowed a magical sword from the Dragon King to fight against Vietnam’s then Chinese oppressors.

After claiming independence for the Viets, he came to the lake and returned the sword to its divine owner via its disciple – a giant turtle which surfaced to take it from his hands before disappearing beneath the jade waters.

The lake duly became known as Hoan Kiem, or the Lake of the Returned Sword.

Scientists are not yet sure what killed Cu Rua – pollution, climate change or simple old age – but his body is being examined by experts. The authorities have already announced that it will be preserved.

BP oil hurts sea turtles world wide


This video says about itself:

25 September 2012

An educational video by SEE Turtles about sea turtle migrations including leatherbacks and loggerheads.

From Live Science:

Turtles’ Wayward Travels May Mean BP Oil Spill‘s Impact Was Global

by Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor

December 28, 2015 09:05am ET

The far-flung journeys of juvenile sea turtles could mean that the impact of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill was global.

More than 300,000 sea turtles were likely in the region of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the oil spill, according to a new computer simulation. About three-quarters of these marine animals probably came from Mexican nesting populations, the research found. Others hailed from South America, Costa Rica and as far away as western Africa.

As a result, efforts to rehabilitate the environment after the spill should likely reach far beyond the Gulf Coast of the United States, said study researcher Nathan Putman, a biologist at the University of Miami. [See Images of the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill]

A serious spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was operating on a BP-owned well in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil gushed from the well bore at the bottom of the gulf until July 15.

Research in the gulf has found possible long-term impacts on wildlife, including a high mortality rate and a low number of bottlenose dolphin calves in the region. But it was difficult to measure the wildlife impacts, Putman told Live Science, because of the challenge of determining how many animals were passing through at the time of the spill.

Oil can affect sea turtles by coating them with irritating petrochemicals, which can cause inflammation and even organ damage. Oil can also indirectly impact turtles by affecting animals lower in the food chain, making it harder for turtles to find food. Finally, oil slicks can kill the seaweed that tiny baby turtles use to camouflage themselves from predators. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, five times as many sea turtles strandings as usual occurred after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Still, strandings only hint at impacts that might be occurring far from shore, away from easy observation by humans.

“It was largely thought or accepted that there is no real good way to bracket the scope of the potential problem,” Putman said.

He and his colleagues tackled the issue with a simple computer simulation based on ocean currents. They virtually “released” particles, representing turtles, into the Deepwater Horizon-affected region and then backtracked through five years of ocean-current data to see where the turtles would have come from. Depending on species, juvenile turtles spend between two and 10 years or so living in the open ocean, traveling largely with ocean currents. The researchers also took into account potential mortality rates among these traveling turtles.

Turtle impacts

The resulting simulation estimated that there were 175,064 green turtles (Chelonia mydas), 21,363 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and 3,693 Kemp’s ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) in the spill-affected area between April 2010 and August 2010. Serendipitously, Putman said, another research group has since released findings based on in-water estimates of turtles in that area in the years after the spill. The in-water estimates pegged the number of green turtles in the area at 154,000 and the number of loggerheads at 30,800, very close to the simulation’s estimates. [Quest for Survival: Photos of Incredible Animal Migrations]

The real-world estimates, however, suggested there are typically around 217,000 Kemp’s ridley turtles in that area, a big difference from the simulation’s prediction of 3,693. Putman and his team adjusted their model to reflect the notion that Kemp’s ridley turtles might swim against prevailing currents to get to and stay in the area of the gulf affected by the spill. A few simple tweaks brought the model and the real-world estimates in line.

What real-world estimates can’t do is reveal where the turtles came from. That’s where Putman’s model comes in handy. The ocean-current data suggest that turtles in that area in the summer of 2010 likely came from Mexico: Between 43 and 63 percent of greens, 60 and 66 percent of loggerheads, and more than 99 percent of Kemp’s ridleys were from Mexico populations, the researchers report today (Dec. 22) in the journal Biology Letters.

A third of the green turtles in the area likely hailed from Costa Rica, and as many as 16 percent may have come from Suriname in South America, the researchers found. About a third of the loggerheads probably came from the United States. Up to 4 percent of green turtles in the region may have come all the way from Guinea Bissau in West Africa.

To describe these different populations, Putman used the analogy of a bank account. If a bank loses $100,000, he said, it’s important to know which accounts the money was withdrawn from. “It doesn’t matter just that $100,000 got lost,” he said.

There are limitations to the study, the researchers wrote, particularly in that sea turtles don’t have to go with the flow when migrating. But scientists don’t know the extent to which such deliberate swimming affects sea turtles’ routes.

Despite uncertainties, the new simulations could help to inform policy, Putman said. Fishermen, for example, might need to lower their acceptable rate of accidental bycatch of turtles if the impacts of the spill turn out to be great. And the results show that efforts to monitor and repair turtle habitats should reach beyond the gulf, Putman said.

“Turtles aren’t the only dispersive and migratory taxa,” Putman said. “Hopefully, this will push people to consider other animals that might be transient through the gulf.”