Jamursba Medi and Wermon beaches of the northern Bird’s Head region of West Papua (New Guinea), Indonesia have been identified as critical nesting sites for endangered western Pacific leatherbacks (Dutton et al. 2007, Hitipeuw et al. 2007). The Indonesian federal government has designated this region as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and a new local government structure has recently been created to establish more regional autonomy in the management of natural resources. There is an increasing interest from local stakeholders to protect this leatherback nesting population and opportunity to enact measures designed to reverse the continuing decline one of the last remaining leatherback populations in the western Pacific.
The research has documented large-scale nest loss as a result of cyclical tidal erosion, and nest hatching failure due to elevated sand temperatures at certain sections of beaches (Tapilatu and Tiwari 2007). They have developed methods to mitigate the nest failure on an experimental scale and now seek to implement these methods by initiating a project to relocate eggs to protected beach plots to increase hatchling production. UNIPA has gained the support and trust from the local communities adjacent to the nesting beaches who have become engaged in turtle monitoring, particularly in the three villages (from west to east Bird’s Head peninsula: Saubeba, Warmandi and Wau).
This project sought to relocate nests that would be destroyed by beach erosion, high sand temperatures, illegal harvest and predation in order to increase hatchling production. They also engaged local communities in this work to deliver both community benefits and conservation outcomes.
1. Establish in situ beach hatcheries at protected sites on Jamursba-Medi.
2. Move clutches of leatherback eggs that are identified as otherwise “doomed” to these hatcheries.
3. Contract local community to support egg relocation, hatchery maintenance and implement conservation measure.