Largest leatherback turtle population found in Gabon, West Africa
A nesting population of leatherback sea turtles in Gabon, West Africa, was identified as the largest ever in the May issue of Biological Conservation.
Scientists from the University of Exeter and Wildlife Conservation Society estimated populations during three nesting seasons from 2002 to 2007 using a combination of aerial surveys along the country’s 600 km. coast that included video footage for evaluation and also detailed monitoring on the ground. The population was pegged at between 15,730 and 41,373 females. This study is important as it has identified the key sites for leatherback nesting that will enable the development of future conservation management plans.
What is particularly welcome is that around 79 per cent of the nesting occurs within Protected Areas, a sure sign that stringent protection is the way forward. The turtles, however, scientists warn face a whole range of threats from illegal fisheries, nest poaching, pollution, habitat disturbance and climate change.