Shaping the future for people and sea turtles

Since a long time there are indications that at the sea coast of southwestern Côte d'Ivoire sea turtles lay their eggs (eg, Nicole et al., 1994, A Priliminary Inventory of Coastal Wetlands of Côte d'Ivoire, IUCN Wetland programs). Yet there is not a single reserve for a stretch of coastline (Lauginie 2002 Conservation de la nature et aires protégées en Côte d'Ivoire).

The fishing and trade in sea turtles and their eggs is banned in Côte d'Ivoire by law, however, is still daily in practice (2012-2015 through witnesses and photos used). It is expected that, particularly, the consumption of eggs of sea turtles short to medium term will diminish the local turtle populations. To preserve the sea turtles in Côte d'Ivoire active protection is currently an urgent need, there still exist remnant populations with genetic features (the sea turtles return to the beaches of their "birth" back).

Since 2010 the non-commercial NGO „Protect Marine Animals“ (CEM - Conservation des Especes Marines) has been working continuously for the protection of ocean turtles in the area of Grand Béréby (Cote d’Ivoire), particularly between the villages Roc und Kablaké. Thanks to a strong cooperation with the local population and the coastal protection guards of Grand Béréby every year more than 600 nests of ocean turtles can be preserved. As a result, over 50.000 baby turtles can hatch and safely reach the ocean water across the beach. In the past, the turtles were intensivly hunted; around 50% of female adult turtles were killed, and nearly no baby turtles could reach the water.

Since 2016 CEM - with support of Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and Rainforest Trust - tries to established a voluntary nature protection area of approximately 12.000 acres along the coastal section covering the main spawning ground. Despite the high ecological pressure caused by human activities in this coastal zone the natural diversity in this area is extraordinarily rich. To date three locally critically endangered species have been detected in this zone: West-African Chimpanzee, Slender-snouted Crocodile and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. In addition, two globally critically endangered species have been found (Pygmy hippopotamus and a Chlorocebus species, as well as 7 endangered species: 2 species of pangolin, Dwarf Crocodile, a monkey species (Western Pied Colubus), a terrestrial turtle and  two other marine tutles (Leatherback and Olive ridley Sea turtle). Furthermore, the presence of buffaloes, Red river hog and Duiker, were ascertained.