After six years away: Marine Turtles return to Rolas Island in the Quirimbas National Park
According to Augusto Omar, a local religious leader and park counselor: “6 years ago the pressure over marine resources (including marine turtles) in this island was very high…people use to come even from Tanzazia to catch and eat turtles and their eggs, but now things have changed: it’s the community watching over the island and it is now a safer place for this species”. “…at the time (6 years ago) you could easily find about 70 fishermen camping there, but that is over now thanks to the Park”, concluded Omar.
With the creation of the park and the establishment of marine protected areas (sanctuaries), the number of fishermen visiting the island has decreased, and now even two park rangers are based there. The local community fishermen work in close collaboration with the ranges in order to ensure that the sanctuaries aren’t violated by local and illegal fishermen.
“The implementation of the Marine Turtle Conservation Programme has helped them understand the importance of this endangered species; now we have results here and in other parts of the country where we are implementing this programme.” Said Alice Costa, a WWF Mozambique Marine Biologist, who also added: “this is all possible not only because they are aware, but mostly because they participate in monitoring activities”.
In addition, other species considered to have been disappeared a few years ago in the park are now being seen again very often; this is the case of grey mullet (mugil cephalus) and some species of parrot-fish.
The Rolas Island is located in the north of the Quirimbas National Park and has one established Marine Protected Area.
Lécio Munguambe, Communication Officer
WWF Mozambique Coordination Office
Fax: 21 490970