Turtle monitoring project - Activities

Intensive patrolling

During the peak-nesting season between November and February, intensive patrols are conducted daily by rangers, project monitors, students and temporary staff along the entire 56-kilometre length of beach. A core 20-kilometre stretch of beach is patrolled throughout the year.
Foot patrols are undertaken every night during the nesting season by the trained community monitors who, in pairs, walk the length of their designated 8 kilometre-long patrol zone just before sunrise and sunset.

In addition, vehicle patrols, undertaken by experienced EKZN Wildlife staff exercising utmost care and best practice, monitor the entire 56-kilometre section every night.

Once a turtle is encountered, the beach location, the date and time of the emergence, and various environmental factors is recorded - including the presence of cloud cover, lightning, rain, and wind strength and direction.

Turtles are recorded as having 'nested' when:
  • They are actively observed nesting;
  • When a nest is located.

They are recorded as 'not nested' when:
  • They emerge and return to the sea with no nesting taking place;
  • There are tracks on the beach with no nest.

All turtles are checked for previous tags or tag scarring. Those individuals not previously tagged have a uniquely numbered titanium tag attached to their fore flipper (loggerheads) or hind flipper (leatherbacks).

Other activities that have been undertaken include satellite tracking and translocation - with releases being made off Madagascar and Reunion.

Partnerships and community participation
The Turtle Monitoring Project in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is truly a community-based collaborative effort:
  • Currently there are about 15 fully trained members of the local Maputaland community who are employed as monitors for the duration of the nesting period to collect the valuable data.

  • An ecotourism venture called a Turtle Walk concession has been granted to local community guides from the Kosi Bay/Bhanga Nek area to take small groups on interpretive walks along the beach at night to watch the turtles nesting. These walks are used to spread the messages about the decline of turtle populations worldwide and the impact of such disturbing impacts as bright lighting, beach driving and beach developments - including lodges.

  • Five turtle tourism concessions have been granted to independent tourism operators elsewhere in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.

  • The Project is administered by staff from EKZN Wildlife, who support the Wetland Authority in compliance efforts with regard to turtle conservation.
 A Monitoring Team checks in at the Bhanga Nek HQ before heading out to patrol their stretch of the ... / ©:  WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan
A Monitoring Team checks in at the Bhanga Nek HQ before heading out to patrol their stretch of the Maputaland coastline.
© WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan
The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife logo - on the side of one of their beach patrol vehicles. / ©: WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan
The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife logo - on the side of one of their beach patrol vehicles.
© WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan
WWF personnel, pictured here on the shores of the Kosi Lakes, recently visited the KZN Turtle ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan
WWF personnel, pictured here on the shores of the Kosi Lakes, recently visited the KZN Turtle Monitoring Program after the 2005 Species Working Group meeting in South Africa.
© WWF-Canon / Richard McLellan

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