Project Monitor July Ngubane inspects the catch. July flagged-down this group of fishermen to investigate the species, number and locale of their catch. Interventions like these spread the word about sustainable fishing practices in the region.
Monitoring turtles for 40 years
In 1916, all harvesting of sea turtles was banned in South Africa, and from the early 1960s, concerted efforts were made to enforce legislation banning egg collection and the harvesting of adults.
This was aided by effective continuous and high-intensity monitoring. In 1963, under the auspices of the Natal Parks Board, a Turtle Conservation and Monitoring Project was initiated along the north-eastern coast of KwaZulu Natal - which is now the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. This Project, currently under the supervision of Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal (EKZN) Wildlife, is still in existence today.
The principal aims of the long-running Project are to:
- Monitor and record data (for further analysis) on the nesting populations of loggerhead and leatherback marine turtles along the north-eastern seaboard of South Africa;
- Provide protection for the nesting females, which come ashore during this vulnerable life cycle stage on the shore; and
- Establish an annual population census and determine distribution of nesting loggerhead and leatherback marine turtles in South Africa and Mozambique.
The Project also aims to increase the levels of community involvement; to make the Project more financially sustainable; and to further extend its operations into southern Mozambique.