|Categories||Biodiversity, Reptiles, Turtles|
|Date||27 Jun 2017|
Very few research and conservation efforts are directed toward aquatic species in Cameroon. Throughout our literature review, we found that not a single report or scientific paper has been published about the African softshell turtle in Lake Ossa. However, based on informal interview surveys conducted in the area one year ago, we were able to confirm that the species is present. This species is experiencing serious decline in Lake Ossa, mainly attributed to systematic nest poaching, degradation of nesting beaches and illegal fishing techniques. In fact, most of the fishermen in Lake Ossa use fishing practices incompatible with the well being of the turtle, such as deploying cotton nets across corridors used by turtles to move between sites, or all along the edges of the lake where turtles go to feed or nest. As a result, turtles regularly get entangled into these nets. Additionally, during the dry season many fishermen became “eggs hunters”, patrolling the nesting sites to collect all the eggs for local consumption or sales.
This project will combine social and ecological investigations to:
Collect baseline data to evaluate the population status of African soft-shelled turtle in Lake Ossa using traditional ecological knowledge of local fishermen trough questionnaire survey of fishermen and households and participatory mapping.
Identify and monitor at least 75% of critical nesting areas for African soft shelled turtle in Lake Ossa as well as mapping, characterization and cleaning of nesting beaches.
Raise the level of awareness and knowledge of the local community on the importance of Trionyx triunguis by sensitizing at least 75% of the people living around the LOWR trough Community outreach campaign and Nature classes or field trip with students and teachers.
The data collected through this project will help to identify critical habitats for feeding and nesting for Trionyx triunguis in order to improve and prioritize conservation efforts towards the species in Lake Ossa. These data will be useful to the Conservation Service in the establishment of “No human activity zones” in Lake Ossa to reduce the principal threats faced by Trionyx triunguis and human invasion of nesting beaches for camping. Also, the results of this study will provide a means to explore ecotourism opportunities by mapping areas where these species occur; these areas become candidates for community-based ecotourism where, for instance, fishermen could act as guides.
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