Sea Shepherd Global, along with local NGO, Biosfera 1, has launched its 2015 Shearwater anti-poaching campaign in Cabo Verde, West Africa.
The campaign aims to protect populations of vulnerable Shearwater birds (Calonectris edwardsii)from the devastating impacts of poaching.
From July until September, the Sea Shepherd vessel Jairo Mora Sandoval will have a permanent presence in the waters around Razo Island in Cabo Verde, where its crew will implement anti-poaching measures that support conservation laws.
Razo Island is the largest marine reserve in Cabo Verde and is integral to the biodiversity of the region. It is also home to the largest colony of Cabo Verdian Shearwaters in the archipelago.
Arriving at their island breeding colonies in late February to March, the birds nest in hollows in cliffs and offshore rocks, and under large boulders. Each pair of Shearwater adults raises just one offspring.
The birds are extremely exposed and easy to approach while in their nests. During this time, poachers come to the island and wring the necks of the fat, fluffy chicks, killing them for food and for profit.
In previous years, Shearwater juveniles have been poached in the thousands, with records indicating that as many as 6,000 Shearwater chicks have been poached in one summer. Not surprisingly, the population trend of the Cabo Verdian Shearwater is now decreasing, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List categorizing the species as near threatened.
This is the second consecutive year that Sea Shepherd has partnered with Biosfera 1, who have had a full-time presence on Razo Island since 2007, to assist with anti-poaching operations in the archipelago.
Jairo Mora Sandoval Manager, Ryan Jones, said, “Thanks to the constant pressure of our presence, and documentation and monitoring activities around the islands undertaken as part of our anti-poaching operations, we are already seeing a drive from the government to enforce maritime and conservation laws in the reserve.”
Recently, the government of Cabo Verde also granted permission for the Jairo Mora Sandoval to install permanent fixed moorings in two integral marine reserves in Cabo Verde at Razo and Santa Luzia Islands.
''The permanent moorings on the Islands allow the Jairo Mora Sandoval to stay in the field longer, maximizing our presence and ability to uphold conservation law,'' said Jones.