New angles on Bazaruto Archipelago National Park's Dugongs

21 May 2014 | News story

Often our emotional connections to beautiful places and amazing species are about perspective. Finding new angles with her camera, SOS Grantee and IUCN Member, Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) Karen Allen reveals the beauty of Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in Mozambique – home to the largest viable population of dugongs in the western Indian Ocean.  

Participating in one of the project’s aerial surveillance patrols, Karen got up high over Bazaruto’s bejewelled seascapes – the shallow iridescent seas and sweeping sandbanks among which Vulnerable dugongs forage in sea-grass beds. These surveilllance flights record all fishing activity, illegal harvesting activity, dugong sightings as well as manta ray and whale shark sightings, identifying threat hotspots and developing a dugong distribution map - critical as they are dispersed across the Park’s vastness – and rarely seen except from the air.

Updating SOS, Karen shared her photos explaining, “I realise we have been out of touch for longer than normal. But this doesn’t mean we're not busy. In fact - we're completely caught up in applying a current phase in the law enforcement strategy - keeping Bazaruto's dugongs out of harm's way”.

EWT's Dugong Emergency Protection Project has enabled a marked improvement in Marine Protected Area management in Mozambique. May 2014 marks a one-year anniversary of the application of improved law enforcement systems in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park; facilitated through support from SOS, and in partnership with the Government of Mozambique.

The project has achieved significant conservation intervention results- including the mitigation of threats to dugongs in the National Park, enhanced marine patrol coverage and reporting, and aerial surveillance and monitoring in the greater Bazaruto Archipelago. The latter activity has allowed EWT to map dugong distribution and identify two distinct assemblages; one within the Park boundaries, and one to the north of the Park. Areas of significant threat that overlap dugong occurrence outside the Park's boundaries have also been identified, and threat mitigation actions have been put in place to prevent dugong mortality in these high-risk areas.