A difficult year for all of us is entering its final quarter, and the pandemic continues to keep us in its grip. The withdrawal from participation in various events may belong to the smaller problems. More painful is that we have to cancel the popular Turtle Raffle for 2021, which prizes are sponsored by the diving industry and for which ticket sales would now have started in autumn. We sincerely apologise to our regular participants and prize sponsors.
But of course, we are also feeling the effects of the pandemic in our projects – for example, no international volunteers were able to help us with the beach protection measures on Boa Vista, Cape Verde. The fact that we can still carry out our protection projects everywhere with practically no loss of scope or quality is due to the tireless efforts of our employees and rangers on site, but also to all our donors and supporters, who do not let us down in these days. This time we would especially like to express our very, very heartfelt thanks!
Boa Vista: Will it be another record nesting season?
Due to the lockdown, this year we started the direct beach protection measures on Boa Vista a few days delayed. However, it soon became clear that this nesting season of loggerhead turtles, beginning in June every year, would be extraordinary in other respects as well: Very soon, an unusually large number of turtles began to climb the beaches, and if it continues like this, this year will close with a new record number of nests! Fortunately, our initial fear that poaching would also increase due to a sharp rise in unemployment did not come true. This is in part attributable to the increased beach patrols by special teams using species protection dogs and night vision drones.
Photo: From September onward, freshly hatched baby turtles can be observed regularly on the nightly beaches on their way to the sea. Here, a morning straggler.
Belambangan: Protection project further consolidated
Our conservation project on the small island of Belambangan in the Derawan Archipelago off East Borneo, Indonesia, has already been running for almost two years. Since the beginning of this year, our rangers have been enjoying a new, solid station for living and working. This is a great relief compared to the life in a temporary camp they had before on this very remote island. A few weeks ago, a new speedboat could finally be purchased, as the existing one was a bit outdated and started to pose a safety risk for our rangers on the long way across the open sea. The green sea turtles thank our new protection efforts with high nesting activity. Their eggs are now no longer collected by poachers, and this year again many thousands of hatchlings will reach the sea and help to stabilize the endangered population.
Photo: Rangers on Belambangan digging and evaluating a hatched nest.
Sumatra: Leatherback turtles again nesting on the beach of Sipora?
On the island of Sipora off West Sumatra, we eagerly await the beginning of the upcoming leatherback turtle nesting season in October. The turtles nesting on Sipora belong to a highly endangered subpopulation of these impressive animals. We are all the more concerned that not a single animal appeared on the large nesting beach during the last nesting season. Of course, we hope very much that our efforts on Sipora will not come too late and that we will be able to further expand our integrative conservation project, which is also directed to benefit the needs of the local people. Furthermore, we are now cooperating with the Indonesian organisation Ecosystem Impact, with which we aim to protect additional important nesting sites of this endangered local population of leatherback turtles along the chain of islands off West and North Sumatra.
Photo: Satellite tagging of a leatherback turtle on Selaut Besar off North Sumatra. Will the leatherback turtles return to Sipora as well?
Bali: Turtle Foundation mascot Kimi on Indonesian television
In Indonesia, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle is still killed in large numbers for their coveted shell, which is used to make jewellery and souvenirs. From Bali we are directing a nationwide campaign against the illegal trade with turtle shell products. For this campaign we produced a TV spot with our mascot Kimi as the protagonist. The spot is now being broadcasted on several channels in Indonesia and will hopefully convince many people in an entertaining way to refrain from buying turtle shell jewellery. You can find the one-minute spot with English subtitles here on our YouTube channel. Despite the serious subject matter – Kimi’s charm will enchant you!
Photo: Our anti turtle shell spot with animated mascot Kimi is currently shown regularly in many thousands of Indonesian households