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Sea Turtle and Dugong Conservation Project
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 Project Overview

Fifty years ago, the Andaman coastline of Southern Thailand, was a thriving nesting area for sea turtles. From December to March they laid their eggs in large numbers but now the situation has changed.

There are many reasons why the numbers of turtles have decreased. Over-fishing in the seas leads to the capture of many females preparing to nest. Over-development along the coastline, due to Thailand's increasing popularity as a holiday destination, is reducing the availability of nesting habitat. In addition, when a turtle manages to get past the fishing boats and find a suitable beach, the eggs are often collected and sold in markets.

In 2003 WARF established the Sea Turtle Conservation Project at Baan Talae Nork, in the Ranong Province of Thailand. Baan Talae Nork is a small, traditional fishing village, untouched by tourism, with 6km of pristine beach that was, until recently, a popular nesting area for turtles. However, in the 2002-2003 nesting season just three nests were found. The Sea Turtle Conservation Project aims to reduce threats to turtles along coastal beaches, before they disappear from the area altogether. The project's main goals are to monitor the beach for turtle nests, engage in local conservation education, and help with data collection. Working with the Ranong Coastal Resources Research Station, the project also looks after a number of turtles in captivity, and aims to release the turtles back into the sea where possible.

 

 

Nest found on Long Beach

 

In 2005-2006, we could protect 2 out of 5 nest found. The first nest that was protected (laid January 3rd) hatched after 63 days on March 7th at 3.15am. 85 hatchlings emerged in 3 batches, with a final hatchling hauled from the bottom of the nest after the nest was excavated. It was a very impressive hatchling success rate of 86 %. The second nest that was protected (laid January 12th) hatched after 59 days during the day on March 12th. This season (2006-2007) the project will be monitoring over 16km of beach to determine nesting turtle population and protect nests from poaching and predation. Mainly Leatherback turtles are thought to nest here. (see nesting beach map for more detail)

In 2007, due to the increasing threats to dugongs, WARF added another aspect to the existing project, creating the Sea Turtle and Dugong Research, Education and Conservation Project. The newly modified project now seeks to foster, promote, and support scientific research related to dugongs as well as sea turtles, with a focus on populations in Thailand where resources are currently limited. The project intends to facilitate meaningful exchange of information among scientists, students, regulatory agencies, NGOs, and concerned citizens. It will promote effective communication about science and conservation to diverse audiences in order to increase awareness. Within the community, the aim is to support conservation efforts by local people in Thailand and to provide scientific data to local decision makers concerned with dugong and sea turtle conservation.

When not working on turtle and dugong duties, volunteers help with the daily operations in the Wild Animal Rescue and Education Centre (WARED) . The WARED also houses gibbons and macaques. There are many reasons why they come to be here but usually it's because they were mistreated in captivity. Many of them come here with no experience of interacting with their own species so WARF keeps them in as natural an environment as possible in the hope of changing that.

 

If you are interested in joining the Turtle Conservation Project as a volunteer please fill out the application form and letter of motivation. The majority of the work for the turtle project takes place between December and March.

 

WARF is actively involved in conservation awareness among the local communities and volunteers are encouraged to get involved. We have a good relationship within the village, many of the workers here are from the area, and we hope to build on this as community involvement is vital if this project is to succeed. As this project is both very busy and still in the developing stages. We encourage volunteers to take the initiative - so there is lots of room to make your mark!

 


Research Objectives:
  • Work with local communities, mark and record the location of all nests and turtles seen along the coast of Baan Talae Nork .
  • Protect nesting sites, if found, by close beach monitoring during the breeding season.
  • Take steps to reduce the threat of sea turtle disappearance in the area by creating tools to assess the impact of fisheries, coastal development, and poaching on turtle populations.
  • Expand educational programs aimed at schools, local people, and tourists about conservation issues.
  • Encourage sound and professional scientific research related to dugong and sea turtle populations by providing feedback, support, and possible funding advice.
  • Support international network of existing dugong and sea turtle  researchers; provide a platform for the international exchange of ideas and information, accessible via the Internet
  • Promote inter-cultural exchange and foster enduring collaborative relationships between host countries and researchers
  • Provide internship opportunities for students and volunteers from both host and visiting countries; encourage respect for and consideration of the local knowledge in each study area, e.g. students, teachers, fishermen, tour operators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies

Education Objectives:
  • Provide educational materials suitable for science programs at multiple educational levels, including higher education
  • Provide educational materials suitable for science programs at multiple educational levels, including higher education
  • Coordinate presentation of information about research projects, in a format suitable for distribution via ongoing outreach programs.
  • Encourage mutual respect for diverse perspectives, in a manner that enhances awareness, knowledge, and evaluation of all WARF projects

Conservation Objectives:
  • Facilitate information transfer from researchers to regulatory agencies in a manner that is both timely and in a format suitable to meet decision-making needs
  • Incorporate the information and implementation needs of regulatory agencies and in the design of research projects
  • Enhance awareness, knowledge, and use of collaborative problem-solving approaches to management of conflicts related to conservation of dugong, sea turtles and their aquatic habitats
  • Commitment to low environmental impact in research design with a focus of contributing to conservation of the subject and its environment

Significance of Project:
  1. WARF's Sea Turtle and Dugong Conservation Project has been set-up to monitor the presence of threatened sea turtle and Dugong populations with a long-term aim to increase numbers in the area.
  2. Setting up the Project in the heart of Baan Talae Nork was no accident. By doing this WARF aims to become part of the community. With a long-term plan to target all sections of the community, WARF wants to increase knowledge and generate local understanding of the value of nature and its conservation. By setting up a formulated educational programme - seminars for adults, working with the chiefs of the villages and local schools - WARF hopes to get the community actively involved in the protection of turtles and nesting sites. WARF's Wild Animal and Education Centre, already established at Baan Talae Nork, will form a focal point where both local people and tourists are welcome to come and learn.
  3. In the long-term WARF hopes that, by getting local people involved, poaching sea turtle eggs in the area will become a thing of the past. As more local people take a closer interest in conservation, the role that WARF plays will decrease and the environment will benefit. The long-term idea is for conservation efforts to spread further afield.

Living in Unseen Thailand - The Ranong Biosphere Reserve:

The Sea Turtle and Dugong Conservation Project will take place within the Ranong Biosphere Reserve. Its natural resources are of great importance to the local people, many of whom are totally dependent on the forests and marine areas for their livelihoods. The Ranong Biosphere Reserve's natural resources are also of great importance for protecting the coast and providing a habitat for Thailand's wildlife.

The Ranong Biosphere Reserve incorporates a large proportion of Ranong's mangrove forests. These flow in the soft muddy soils of the Kra-buri River delta, on the border of Thailand and neighbouring Myanmar. Ranong's mangrove forests are the largest concentration remaining in Thailand and one of the most extensive in the Indo-Pacific region. The mangrove forests found in the reserve are mainly secondary forest which had been previously harvested for the production of charcoal; formerly a major industry in the area. The remaining virgin old growth forest is now reserved for research.

The Ranong Biosphere Reserve incorporates a large proportion of Ranong's mangrove forests. These flow in the soft muddy soils of the Kra-buri River delta, on the border of Thailand and neighbouring Myanmar. Ranong's mangrove forests are the largest concentration remaining in Thailand and one of the most extensive in the Indo-Pacific region. The mangrove forests found in the reserve are mainly secondary forest which had been previously harvested for the production of charcoal; formerly a major industry in the area. The remaining virgin old growth forest is now reserved for research.

 

 

      Help is needed!...If you would like to contribute to this project in any way you may use the on-line donation form, check out our volunteer pages, or simply contact us for more information.

Taking Action for Turtles

Sea turtle are regarded by many as a valuable money-making tool. They are used for food, for cosmetics and their shells used for personal items such as buttons and jewellery. If sea turtles are to survive this trade must cease. You can do your bit to help the sea turtles' plight:


How you can help to save the sea turtles!

Everyone in their own way can contribute to saving sea turtles in Thailand and worldwide by doing or not doing the following:

•  Never disturb a sea turtle that is crawling to or from the sea!
•  Once a sea turtle has begun nesting, observe her only from a distance. Do not disturb her.
•  Never attempt to ride a sea turtle!
•  Do not shine lights in sea turtles eyes or take flash photography.
•  Avoid or reduce beach lighting at night.
•  Avoid noise at nesting beaches during night.
•  Keep our beaches and oceans clean. Don't litter on the beach and don't throw waste into the ocean. Take your trash back home and collect garbage that you find on the beach and dispose it accordingly.
•  Don't drive with vehicles on nesting beaches.
•  Never buy turtle products. Don't eat turtle eggs and meat.
•  Only eat fish that is caught sustainably.
•  Raise money for conservation projects such as the Sea Turtle Conservation and Wildlife Sanctuary Project in Baan Talae Nork. •  Lobby your government asking them to take more pro-active action in protecting sea turtles, including the installation of Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) on commercial fishing nets.
•  Become a volunteer at a sea turtle conservation project - there are many similar projects worldwide.
•  Tell your friends and family about what you have learned about sea turtles and motivate them to help saving these animals.
•  Tell the project team about sea turtles you have seen around the area, how many you have seen and where they have been.


 

Report from Previous Season 

 2003-2004

 2004-2005

 2005-2006

 2006-2007

Project Information

 Volunteer Opportunity  Volunteer Booking form
 Handbook for Volunteers 2007  Monthly Summary
 Beach Patrolled Map  The IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU
 2005-2006 Nest Point Map  Baan Talae Nork Info



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