The seahorses near Vilankulo have been under pressure from poaching for the regional Chinese medicine trade. They are protected in Mozambique by the Biodiversity Law. On World Tourism Day, September 27th, 2018, we launched a short-term campaign to combat seahorse poaching in collaboration with the local authorities with support from by Bahia Mar hotel. There are three seahorses in this area: Hippocampus Camelopardalis, Hippocampus Kuda and Hippocampus Histrix. The latter two are on the IUCN red list. The campaign set the stage for ongoing work around 1) education, 2) enforcement and 3) tourism development for alternative income. We are also coordinating seahorse research around the Bazaruto Archipelago.
September 27, 2018
These signs were designed in collaboration between ParCo, Bahia Mar, African Park and the local Mozambican Government Authorities. They have been installed at seven locations along the coast of Vilankulo including in the fishing village where seahorse poaching was rampant. It is no longer possible for a fisherman to say “I didn’t know we weren’t allowed to catch that.” Another step in the right direction.
Conservation-minded fishermen monitor their peers.
Former poachers earn an alternative income showing seahorses to tourists after reaching the sea-grass habitat by dhow. 25% of the tour fees go to a seahorse protection tax managed by the village fishing committee.
We do environmental education with school children and fishermen including a love for wildlife and the importance of biodiversity including seahorses.
We were able to study 1860 individuals that were captured in a police bust during the campaign. The next efforts will involve studying the seahorse population in the natural habitats around the archipelago.