Monday, May 18, 2009

Giant population of giant reptiles confirmed

The leatherback turtle is in dire straits, but not quite as dire as we feared. Scientists studying turtles using the nesting beaches of Gabon have confirmed 15,000 - 41,000 females use them each year (that's pretty imprecise, you may think, for counting animals which may be 2m long and weigh 500kg, but it's not like the turtles cooperate by using only the beaches under watch and hanging around when the aerial surveys were taking place). The WCS' Angela Formia said, "These findings show the critical importance of protected areas to maintain populations of sea turtles. Gabon should be commended for creating a network of National Parks in 2002 that have provided a sanctuary for this endangered species as well as other rare wildlife." Cool fact: it was only in 1984 that we confirmed leatherbacks were visiting Gabon at all.

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