It is another day in Maputo Special Reserve, and today Dolf Botha – Counter-Poaching Coordinator for Maputo Special and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine reserves – receives an alert about a fishing boat with its nets out close to Ponta Dobela. As it is illegal to fish in this area, Dolf and his team head out by helicopter to pick up the boat’s registration number. The boat can then be reported to the Department of Fisheries, which is responsible for monitoring illegal fishing in the area.

As the helicopter flies towards the sea, it crosses the Maputo Special Reserve, a coastal reserve, which means it borders the ocean. He passes over the beaches where, every year, over 200 critically endangered and endangered sea turtles nest. The warm water of the Indian Ocean is rich with biodiversity. It is home to the largest aggregation of giant trevally in the world, to dugongs vulnerable to extinction, and to a vast array of sea life including 122 newly identified nudibranch species. They all need protecting from illegal commercial fishing activities.

Once up in the air it is not long before the fishing boat is located. But it is a false alarm. It turns out that the catamaran has three community members doing a bit of fishing, which is not illegal. But it is always worth checking things out.

The role of the counter-poaching team in Maputo Special Reserve is to monitor and respond to all manner of call-outs, in order to help protect and preserve these vast wildernesses so that they are still thriving for future generations. All part of the work that Peace Parks and partners do to develop large landscapes with healthy ecosystems supporting protected species.