|Date||8 Sep 2014|
Historically, five species of marine turtles are known to nest along Ghana’s beaches (deGraft-Johnson et al, 2010). These are the Leatherback (Demochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys sp.), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Olive-Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). Sighting of nesting turtles along most beaches in Ghana are becoming rare (Tanner, 2013; Boateng, 2006) most likely due to severe land-based threats that the turtles face when they visit the beaches to nest. Along the Cape Coast and Elmina area, marine turtles face two major threats from coastal communities in the form of poaching and the destruction of nesting habitats through beach sand mining (Jonah, 2014).
Little research has been conducted about the status of sea turtles in the Cape Coast and Elmina area making planning for conservation a challenge. Poaching of turtles and their eggs therefore go on without the detection and knowledge of appropriate authorities such as the Ghana Wildlife Service. Beach sand mining activities along most beaches in the area also compounds the fate of the turtles as many potential nesting areas have become degraded and starved of sand. This project seeks to:
Background information about sea turtles will be obtained from coastal communities through administration of a set of structured questionnaire, a series of focus ground interviews and one-on-one interactions. A trainer of trainees’ workshop on turtle conservation will be organized for key community leaders, who will be expected to pass on their acquired knowledge to their respective communities. With the aid of volunteers in the various communities, a continuous sea turtle patrol regimen will be developed to promote sighting of nesting turtles for protection. Also, a series of stakeholder dialogue meetings will be organized with the support of the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly to develop a sea turtle conservation action plan for the area.
It is expected that at the end of the project community members will have developed an interest in sea turtle conservation which they can use to improve their livelihoods through promotion of ecotourism. Also, we expect that enforcements of environmental regulations will be improved to stop the degradation of habitat and poaching of turtles.
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Youths dragging a leatherback turtle to slaughter at a beach in Cape Coast.
F Jonah beside a captured leatherback turtle in Cape Coast. ©Wisdom Agbeti
Nesting leatherback turtle during field training and turtle monitoring at Mankoadze. ©Dan Barbour.
Olive Ridley turtle that was captured when it got entangled in fishing net. ©F. Jonah.