Unesco Green Citizens

Conservation of Sea Turtles of Côte d’Ivoire

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Project begin: 01/09/2013

To protect sea turtles from poaching in the Ivory Coast, Spanish vet José Gómez Peñate has developed a protection programme that involves and supports the local community.

Leading organisation: Conservation des Espèces Marines
Covered Countries: Ivory Coast / Côte d'Ivoire
Theme: Biodiversity, Oceans
Sub-themes: Natural resource management, Participatory/citizen science, Protecting marine ecosystems, Sustainable living
Tag: #Africa #Youth
Selection: 2021
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When José Gómez Peñate moved to the Ivory Coast in 1992, he discovered there weren’t any measures in place to protect sea turtles from poachers. Since then, he has launched different projects – sometimes interrupted by lack of funding – to carry out research and protect the turtle including Conservation des Espèces Marine (CEM).

In 2010, he launched a programme to protect female turtles and their nests in Grand-Béréby. To succeed, this project required local support from a population that relied on the turtles and their eggs as a source of income and food. With Action pour le Développement (AAD), he therefore developed initiatives to raise awareness and support sustainable development, like installing water systems using solar energy, restoring primary schools, building 3 communal building powered by solar energy and creating a health centre.

The first protected marine area in the Ivory Coast

Poaching has been all but eliminated on Dogbalé-Mani-Kablaké beach, the most important nesting site in the country. Clearing and charcoal production have also stopped. 700 female sea turtles are currently protected and give birth to 40,000 baby turtles each year. Covered in swamp forest and lagunas, this area will soon become a community nature reserve to further fight against wild animal trafficking, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. It will be the first protected marine area in the Ivory Coast.

But José Gómez Peñate isn’t stopping there. He hopes to extend the work of CEM to protect sea turtles along 30km of beach to the east of Grand-Béréby.

Would you like to help José do more to protect sea turtles and other wildlife in the Ivory Coast?

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