West African Manatee Conservation
This project aims to significantly improve the conservation status of the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) at Volta Lake in Ghana over a 3-year period through research and reduction of hunting.
This species is the least understood and probably most endangered of all extant Sirenians, and a unique opportunity exists to improve knowledge of its seasonal distribution, ecology and response to human impacts. This should lead to better management and conservation prospects for the species across its range. The project will increase awareness of, and reduce, human-manatee conflict in shoreline fishing communities, and enhance local, national and sub-regional capacity to protect this species. The West African manatee will be incorporated in the development of community-based ecotourism efforts at Lake Volta, offering economic and social benefits to the local community while simultaneously meeting conservation objectives.
Participants have found that the project is an excellent opportunity to develop their ‘soft’ skills, such as networking, communication, leadership and teamworking. For Abdoulie Sawo, a park warden for the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management in The Gambia who took part in the project in 2009, the most important part of his Earthwatch experience was the fieldwork. He said:
“It was real fieldwork. I was able to learn so much”
The project also aims to increase scientific understanding and conservation knowledge. Bolaji Dunsin Abimbola, a participant in 2008 said:
“I now understand the urgency of conservation of manatee and other endangered species and I have been equipped with the needed knowledge to carry out the research and contribute to the conservation of this species”
The Participants View
The Research Staff