CCAHD Partner in Congo documents multiple live sightings and two bycaught Sousa teuszii
CCAHD Partner, Renatura Congo, have traditionally focused on sea turtle conservation and monitoring activities in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). Since 2018, Renatura have worked in Conkouati-Douli National Park and adjacent areas to monitor turtle nesting and strandings, and promote conservation with local communities and stakeholders. In March, they expressed a willingness to train their teams to collect data on dolphin sightings and strandings during the course of their morning turtle track counts and monitoring of the fish landing sites. CCAHD team members supplied Renatura with some basic protocols and data collection forms, and the teams went to work.
Renatura shared their first months’ results with the CCAHD: a total of six separate Sousa teuszii sightings, and four Tursiops truncatus sightings were documented in April 2021. Sousa teuszii group size estimates ranged from four to seven individuals, and observed behaviour was either slow or fast traveling parallel to the coast. Briphaël, the turtle technician who collected these data said “the dolphins frequent the area regularly, I am very happy to start collecting data on these species. I regret that the equipment at my disposal (a camera) is not powerful enough to be able to share good images of the dolphins. Consideration should also be given to equipping artisanal fishermen who would have very good views of the dolphins from their boats at sea.” Sadly the team also documented two dead adult Sousa teuszii that were caught in fishing gear in mid-May in the village of Bellelo just south of the park.
Following a hiatus in dolphin data collection in the Park over the past 4 years, these records represent a valuable confirmation that the previously studied population (see for example Collins et al 2013), is still present in the area. At the same time, the documented bycatch is cause for deep concern. The CCAHD is keen to continue supporting the Renatura team, and hopes to collaborate with Noe, who have recently taken over management of the Conkuati-Douli National Park, and the IWC Bycatch Mitigation Initiative to raise funds for this important work.