AFTER FIVE DECADES OF TURTLE CONSERVATION: WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
Ronel Nel
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Department of Zoology

 

Abstract
Sea turtles are a highly migratory species but, with natal philopatry as a breeding strategy, they rely heavily on coastal protection for their survival. South Africa has served sea turtle conservation for 50 years by protecting turtle nesting and interesting habitat in Protected Areas, and monitoring and conserving nesting turtles in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The effect of these protection efforts has been an exponential growth in loggerhead (Caretta caretta) abundance, and a consistent population size for leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) turtles over time. The conundrum is thus in the disparate responses of these two species to the same apparent conservation treatment in South Africa. Even though leatherbacks have a higher reproductive rate per individual compared to loggerheads, they have failed to increase in number. Factors responsible for these changes could include biased sex ratios, variable incubation environments, or offshore pressures (including pollution and fisheries) affecting the species differently. In reviewing the state of knowledge of sea turtles in South Africa after 50 years of research and monitoring, recommendations will be made for future research and conservation approaches.

 

Presentation Topic
AFTER FIVE DECADES OF TURTLE CONSERVATION: WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
Contact Ms Nel:
Email Ronel Nel