REPUBLIC OF CONGO - Renatura, an NGO that protects sea turtles
FORESTS & CLIMATE – COMMITTED TO A BENEFICIAL ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMANS
Safeguarding biodiversity is the purpose of Renatura Congo, especially sea turtles. Its mission includes environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues. We partnered with this organization because we are committed to conservation and restoration of sensitive ecosystems.
Sea turtles: endangered species
The Congolese coast is an important reproduction and feeding site for five out of seven protected species present in the world.
These turtles are highly dependent on the quality of the marine and coastal environment. In this respect, they are a precious barometer of the local ecosystem health.
In 2005, Nathalie Mianseko set up Renatura Congo after a holiday during which she discovered the sight of nocturnal laying and the threats to these species. With this NGO, she acts to safeguard the local biodiversity by studying the life and habitat of sea turtles.
They are threatened by poaching, urbanization, pollution and economic activities, including fishing. Unfortunately, every year hundreds of turtles are accidentally captured in fisheries ranging from highly mechanized operations to small-scale fishermen.
Increase the levers of action
To protect sea turtles, Renatura organizes patrols along almost the entire Congolese coast in order to follow the spawning grounds. “This work has reduced the poaching of females to less than 1% and nests to less than 5%. Before 2005, poaching was almost systematic, close to 100%, in other words, a female or nest seen was a female or a nest poached,” says Nathalie Mianseko. This NGO also works with local fishermen to return the captured turtles to the sea in exchange for equipment to repair nets damaged by their release.
Renatura is the key partner of the Congolese govern ment in its fight against illegal industrial fishing. Thus, it joins forces with the coastal surveillance patrols of the Ministry of Fisheries: it provides the pilot, fuel and maintenance of the boat. Nearly 30 sea trips are organized each year and dozens of boats, often in breach, are checked.
If you’re interested in turtles, you’re interested in the entire marine ecosystem.
Sensitize the new generations
Another of Renatura Congo’s priorities is to bring out a generation aware of the challenges related to turtle conservation and more broadly to the environment. For Nathalie Mianseko, “it is the youngest now who will be con fronted with the consequences of the choices made today.”
The NGO is active in the public and private schools in Pointe-Noire and coastal villages. The schools welcome Renatura and the teams work with the students during school time. More than 30,000 children are reached each year.
With her team, she is doing thorough, long-term work that is already paying off. “The greatest quality we need to implement is resilience. Never giving up,” says Renatura’s founder - she is convinced that he role of civil society is to keep on tirelessly warning society and moving forward with the pace required by all stakeholders.” “I am proud of my fabulous team - they bring together expertise, energy and endless passion.”
By protecting the turtles, we are protecting a part of Congolese culture.
In order to finance its daily work, the Congolese NGO is working with partners from the private and public sector. Our affiliate is providing technical support by monitoring sea turtles’ laying, especially in the vicinity of Djeno Terminal, releasing turtles from small-scale fishermen’s nets and fighting illegal fishing by contributing to the operation and maintenance of the surveillance boat. Nathalie Mansieko welcomes: “The steadiness and length of this partnership enable us to work on the long term.”
The strong link between turtles and humans
In Congo, the vili community lives on the coast in contact with sea turtles. According to their mythology, the turtles were sirens and as such could not be fished. If one was caught accidentally, rituals were practiced to calm minds and guarantee successful fishing. Legend has it that the rocks on the seabed are made of sea turtles shells that could ensure prosperity.
KEY FIGURES RENATURA CONGO
- 140 km of coastline monitored (out of 170 km)
- 500 turtles released
- 23 villages benefiting from Renature’s work
For more information, visit the website Renatura Congo