Threats to nesting leatherback turtles in Pongara National Park, Gabon

Guy-Philippe Sounguet

Pongara National Park, located just 15 minutes by boat from Libreville, Gabon's capital, is a key leatherback turtle nesting area. Around 3,500 nests are laid each year between the months of October and March along its 35 km Atlantic coastline. Each weekend around 300 tourists visit the area. Associated light pollution and use of quad bikes frequently disorients or disturbs nesting turtles and their young. In addition, trash deposited by northerly currents and escaped logs hamper turtles as they move up the beach. We plan to monitor the frequency and distribution of nesting turtles throughout the year, evaluate threats such as vehicle traffic, artificial lights, beach erosion, predation, presence of logs, poaching etc. and to make management recommendations to park authorities.