29 Februar 2008 | Leserbriefe

Committed to conserve these species

We welcome questions from your readers and would gladly like to provide more information on leatherback turtles, which are found along the Namibian coast. Leatherback Turtles are critically endangered worldwide and are in the highest categories in terms of need for conservation in CITES, IUCN and CMS. Although Namibia is not a signatory of CMS (Convention on Migratory Species), Namibia has endorsed and signed a CMS International Memorandum of Understanding specific to the conservation of marine turtles. Thus, not only turtles are protected in our waters by our fisheries Act, but Namibia is also committed to conserve these species at an international level.

According to the Fisheries Act the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is responsible for the protection, monitoring and research. This Ministry is part of the Namibia Coast Conservation and Management (NACOMA) Project. The project in its five years of existence has to promote and strengthen the conservation, sustainable use and the mainstreaming of the biodiversity along Namibia's coast. This would include various flora and fauna on land and in the waters along the shoreline.

Leatherback turtles don't breed along the Namibian coast. They breed on the beaches of Mayumba National Park in Mayumba, Gabon (Central Africa), which is home to the largest nesting population of leatherback turtles on the African continent. This is a marine protected area, 60 kilometres along the Gabon coast with a 15 kilometres seaward boundary.

Leatherbacks mistaken plastic bags, raw plastic pellets, plastic and styro foam, tar balls and balloons for their natural food. Plastic bags get blown into the sea from land or from vessels, are one of the major killers of turtles. Ingesting this debris can obstruct the gut, lead to absorption of toxins and reduce the absorption of nutrients from their real food. The turtles also get entangled in the gill nets of fishing boats and then drown. They get also struck by ships or trapped by trawls, traps and pots, longlines and dredges.

The leatherback is the largest turtle and largest living reptile in the world. It can reach a total length of 2.1 m with a weight of 365 kg. Unlike other turtles, the leatherback has no visible shell with bone hard plates. Instead, it has a carapace made up of hundreds of irregular bony plates, covered with a leathery skin. The largest leatherback on record was a male stranded on the West Coast of Wales in 1988. He weighed 916 kg.

If readers would like to provide any information and pictures on leatherback turtles they can contact Dr. Jean-Paul Roux with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources at Luderitz ([email protected]), who is the most knowledgeable. Information can also be sent to Mr. Mike Griffen with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism ([email protected]).

NACOMA will also set up a stranding site for both turtles and cetaceans to try and foster some interest. A stranding network is necessary to quantify, identify and do morphometrics. You can contact NACOMA on Tel. 064-403905 about this. For more information on NACOMA pay a visit to its website: www.nacoma.org.na

Gys Reitz (Parrot Communications, Windhoek), on behalf of the NACOMA PROJECT

Gleiche Nachricht


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