It is full steam ahead as a brand-new twin-engined boat arrives for the marine protection team in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve. Provided by The World Bank-funded MozBio programme, it will further enhance law enforcement activities in this ecologically crucial marine protected area.
The 9-and-a-half-metre vessel is equipped with two 150 horsepower engines and state-of-the-art navigation instruments, GPS and radar. This will increase the rangers’ ability to monitor the marine area that falls under the reserve, as well as an extended Environmental Protection Area that, as of 2019, stretches 18 nautical miles into the ocean. The new boat will allow longer periods out at sea, and the ability to carry out night operations. The boat, called Ignobilis, will be based at Santa Maria for a few weeks so that rangers can be trained by Conservation Outcomes on operating techniques, sea safety, rescue, instrument navigation, basic maintenance and tactics for surveillance and pursuit.
Afterwards, Ignobilis will be essential in helping protect the coastal areas of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve and the adjacent Maputo Special Reserve, both co-managed by Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, which provides technical and financial support for the development of conservation and tourism activities. This includes supporting and strengthening the capabilities of the more than 80 rangers who patrol the terrestrial and marine components of the region day and night.
It is along this 100 km stretch of coast where approximately 80% of all the critically endangered leatherback and endangered loggerhead turtles which visit Mozambique’s 2 470 km shoreline each year, come to nest. Around 400 females clamber onto the beaches to lay their eggs, and since 2009 – when the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve was officially proclaimed – Peace Parks and ANAC, have been assisting an intensive turtle monitoring programme that has helped to protect these magnificent creatures.
The arrival of Ignobilis is one more positive step towards protecting this and other endangered species in the region.