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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 459-466

Community-based Conservation of Leatherback Turtles in Solomon Islands: Local Responses to Global Pressures

1 Zaira Community, Western Province, Solomon Islands
2 Zaira Community, Western Province; Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership, Honiara, Solomon Islands
3 School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Simon Albert
School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, Queensland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_17_33

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The population of Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in the western Pacific has experienced dramatic declines over the past two decades. The full extent of these declines and the current status of the western Pacific sub-population remains unclear due to the remote nature of these nesting beaches. Zaira, on the southern coast of Vangunu Island in the Western Province of Solomon Islands is a previously undocumented nesting ground for Leatherback Sea Turtles. Whilst leatherbacks in this area have traditionally been harvested by the local communities, the Zaira community independently initiated a full closure over leatherbacks in 1999 as a response to reducing numbers. This study provides an overview of the scientific and traditional knowledge that the Zaira community has used to underpin their community-based management regime of Leatherback Sea Turtles. The community self-initiated the construction of a leatherback hatchery that was able to replicate the ideal nesting temperature for balanced sex ratios. Furthermore, the community developed a nest monitoring and satellite telemetry programme to provide a regional context to their conservation efforts. This community-led approach highlights the important role local communities can play in the conservation of this iconic species.

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