WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Cape Verde's pristine beaches are fringed by the tempting waters of the Atlantic Ocean which provide a home for an incredible array of marine flora and fauna. Explore its shallows to see clown fish, starry triggerfish, barrier reef anemone fish and eagle rays, amongst many more. Venture to deeper waters by taking a boat trip or scuba dive and see marlin, dolphins and maybe even catch a glimpse of a blue whale. By spending time in this exotic paradise, you will begin to appreciate how precious and valuable these ecosystems are.
The unregulated use of marine habitats is the biggest threat to species and habitats. Six of the world's seven species of sea turtle, all highly endangered, nest along the coastline and have suffered massive overexploitation for eggs, meat and shells. The threat to these beautiful creatures comes from a variety of sources; the extensive and unplanned development of tourism, the unsustainable harvesting of turtle feeding grounds and the polluting and bleaching of the coral reefs. However, the continued exploitation of both turtle meat and eggs for sale on the illegal market remains the single biggest threat – surveys have revealed that egg collection rates have been unsustainably high for at least the last 30 years. Action must be taken to initiate and facilitate the implementation of sustainable marine turtle conservation strategies through education, research and community participation. As a volunteer you will be an integral part of this process, as well as taking practical action to track and protect the turtle populations, all this along with having an unforgettable travel experience.
Your environmental education and awareness-raising work will focus on encouraging indigenous people away from harmful practices such as harvesting turtles and encourage marginalised communities to recognise that rational use of these coastal resources are key to their preservation for the future. You will live the Cape Verde lifestyle, camping on beach survey sites and tasting the best in native local cooking. We try and ensure that in every way possible our project work is sympathetic to the lives of local community members.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Your work on the project will take place mainly from dusk until dawn. It will include a wide range of activities that all contribute to the successful monitoring and protection of six species of sea turtle – leatherback, green, olive ridley, kemp's ridley, loggerhead and hawksbill. The site has been selected for its suitability and high biodiversity value.
The activities that you are participating in include;
contributing ecological and other information to the national environmental databases
identification and population assessments of the different species
establishing the location of and excavating nests
rescuing and rehabilitating injured or sick hatchlings
day and night beach patrols to prevent the poaching of eggs
Depending on when you join you may find yourself working alongside other committed and highly motivated volunteers who all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your project staff will be experienced and friendly individuals dedicated to turtle preservation.
If this is your first time doing conservation work, don't worry! It will only take a short while for you to feel totally at home on camp and confident with the conservation work. Although the work is intense you'll find that living in such a beautiful and inaccessible environment alongside friends who share your passion for turtle conservation will be the experience of a lifetime!