Research, capacity building and conservation for Atlantic humpback dolphins in Guinea
In 2022 the CCAHD launched a 3-year long project focused on research and conservation of Atlantic humpback dolphins (AHD) in Guinea. This project is implemented jointly by Biotope and CCAHD, supported by Mubadala and its asset GAC and managed by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The same fund is also supporting parallel projects in Guinea focusing on marine turtles and manatees. CCAHD scientists are collaborating closely with the Guinean Centre National des Sciences (CNSHB), Biotope (international Department), and Biotope Guinea, who host and administer the project. Together the project partners are working to ensure that local stakeholders, ranging from fishers and coastal communities, to local (trainee) scientists and government and industry representatives are integrally involved in the project’s three main areas of activity:
- Addressing knowledge gaps that hinder effective conservation: In June 2022, the team conducted their first boat-based survey to map dolphin distribution and habitat use and establish photo-identification catalogues in the Rio Nunez Estuary and Tristao Islands. A second survey is planned for November 2022, and three more surveys will be conducted in 2023 and 2024. The project is also preparing to conduct systematic interview surveys with coastal communities along the entire coastline to better understand the species’ distribution and threats, building on links to the range-wide interview survey project that will be funded through the Society for Marine Mammalogy.
- Capacity building for cetacean research and conservation: Capacity building is central to every element of the project. In May 2022, the project launch involved over 20 representatives of government agencies, academic institutions, and NGOs. The half-day meeting included presentations on the ecology and precarious conservation status of AHD, and a lively discussion of the ways in which participating stakeholders could collaborate to more effectively protect the species. The first boat survey included a Guinean student who will use the data collected as part of her MSc degree, and also established working relationships with local fishing communities, marine protected area mangers, and marine authorities in Kamsar and the Tristao islands, two known areas of AHD presence. As the project continues, it aims to ensure that Guinean stakeholders at every level – from government decision-makers to Guinean scientists and coastal communities – have the knowledge, tools and skills required to contribute to understanding and conservation of the species.
- Providing resources to support AHD conservation in Guinea and neighbouring countries: A suite of new educational and communication materials will be developed for use in schools and coastal communities to help raise awareness of AHD and their conservation needs. These will include a children’s story book featuring an AHD as the main character, posters and social media posts that can be used to encourage reporting of AHD sightings, strandings and entanglements. These products will complement the tools that have been developed to raise awareness with government and industry partners, such as the infographic and power-point presentations developed for government engagements in Gabon, Cameroon and Senegal. The new materials can also be made available on the CCAHD website for use throughout the AHD range.
Please check these links for the latest project updates: