The threat to animal species is a complex subject. Anthropogenically speaking, the issues cannot be completely attributed to serving greed and medicinal traditions, since a major contributing factor is overpopulation.
In Mozambique, the biggest threat to turtle species is not, surprisingly, poaching for the black market. Turtles are seen by locals as a source of protein. Sadly, it has become very evident that the coastal fish resources are quickly becoming depleted by overfishing. The cause along most of the African coastline is a population explosion, and not enough resources to feed communities.
Through our efforts to understand the residents’ harvesting of sea turtles, we realised that in order to protect wildlife, we should look at ways to solve the lack of sustenance in the communities, rather than try to enforce a crackdown on poaching.
Our Fish Farm
As an alternative source of protein, we have established a fish farm project on one of the many lakes in our Machangulo Reserve area. If it is successful, we will be able to create more job opportunities, and a source of income, that will help prevent the illegal harvesting of our loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
Based in Ponta Mucombo on lake Lhlamane, since 2018, the tilapia fish farm aims to provide the local community with a reliable source of premium, high-quality fish. Tilapia fish are very high in protein and other nutrients, and were already naturally present in the lake, making it easy to boost their numbers, to keep up with the demand. The fish farm will not only deliver a reliable food source, but will also provide fish for families to sell at local markets, creating another source of revenue for families.
Once the fish farm project is up and running, we aim to duplicate it on the Zambezia Province coastline, which, due to its remoteness, poses its own set of challenges.
Turning Poachers into Protectors
In the Maputo Private Elephant Reserve, they have implemented an extremely successful program involving the local community, training them to monitor and protect the turtles nesting on the coastline. By turning poachers into protectors and guides, they have made the turtles more valuable as a tourist attraction. Taking care of these animals creates employment and generates an income for locals, ensuring that the turtles are no longer sought after as a food source.
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