Can Artificial Intelligence Help Pinch Poachers?
31 October 2019
The turtle monitoring season is in full swing in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, the Mozambican component of the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA, Africa’s first cross-border marine reserve, in the Lubombo TFCA. The turtle monitoring programme links up with the one across the border in South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, where turtles have been monitored since 1963.
Throughout the season, stretching from October to April, reserve management and community members, trained as turtle monitors, undertake vehicle and foot patrols of the turtle nesting sites, the primary goal being to protect the nesting females and their eggs and also to monitor the number of nesting females, and later on the hatchlings.
During the 2014/15 turtle nesting season, there were 1 997 recordings of loggerhead turtles and 67 of leatherback turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs—a turtle may return more than once. Hatchlings recorded were 843 loggerhead and 42 leatherback.
The reserve recently received two motorbikes and one quadbike from the National Administration of Conservation Areas, funded by the World Bank’s Mozbio project. This was additional to the two quadbikes donated in 2014 by the Turing Foundation, which now also donated a jet ski and trailer.
In partnership with Centro Terra Viva and funded by Peace Parks Foundation, two marine guards and two community members were recently trained as skippers. A further two marine guards and two community members were also trained as advanced divers and dive masters respectively.
The equipment and training will increase the efficacy of patrols and law enforcement in the reserve, which is the most important leatherback and loggerhead turtle nesting ground along the Mozambican coast.