As a result of preliminary reconnaissance along the Liberian coastline, SAMFU has established, that several species of sea turtles nest in Liberia which has a coastline of some 350 miles, dominated (ca. 80% of coastline) by sandy beaches interspersed by mangrove swamps and rocky sections. The LSTP is a response based on SAMFU’s findings and aspiration. It aims to work with and empower indigenous coastal communities to manage the stocks that nest on their shores in a sustainable manner. The main objectives of the project are:
To achieve the above, the project has visited a number of communities along the coast and has collected basic data on the communities as consumers/beneficiaries and threats to sea turtles that nest on the coast of Liberia, as well as potential for conservation. The preliminary findings suggest that several species of marine turtle either nest on the shores or are found and captured in the coastal waters of Liberia. As yet it is not possible to confirm with absolute certainty which species are involved, but anecdotal accounts are suggestive that leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and at least one other hardshell turtle species are exploited for meat and eggs.
Although the work is at an early stage, a minimum estimate of the number of turtles utilised for meat is likely to be in the many hundreds, if not thousands, annually. In addition, preliminary data have been gathered regarding the seasonality of nesting, sizes of turtles harvested, clutch size, meat qualities and prices. This work is described in a recent technical report (SAMFU Foundation 1999)
The main constraints to the work, to date, have been the lack of resource materials and complete specimens to assist in identification. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that common names appear to vary regionally. The rate at which sea turtles are being killed mandates an urgent need for a detailed baseline survey of the entire Liberian coast to establish key areas of abundance and diversity, with the goal of initiating a sustainable participatory community-based management plan for the sea turtles. We invite proposals from any group interested in marine turtle biology and conservation to participate in the programme to conserve or protect the populations that nest on Liberia’s shores.
Acknowledgements: Preliminary funding was obtained from Both ENDS/Small Grant Initiative (Holland). We are grateful for the support of Dr. Brendan J. Godley and Dr. Jack Frazier.
SAMFU FOUNDATION. 1999. Summary Progress Report of the LST. 12 pp
(unpublished report -available from the