Community based conservation and monitoring of leatherback turtles at the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area, Papua New Guinea

The purpose of this project is to promote conservation and sustainable management of leatherback sea turtles occurring at the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area (WMA) of Papua New Guinea (PNG). With technical support from NOAA’s Southwest Fishery Science Center, scientific research support by the Marine Research Foundation, and funding support from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC), the Kamiali Integrated Conservation Development Group (KICDG) implements a grassroots, community-based leatherback turtle nesting beach monitoring program at Kamiali, PNG.

Monitoring of leatherback turtles within the Kamiali WMA started in 1999, but gained consistent support by the WPRFMC in 2003. The turtle monitoring site is about 60 km south east of Lae City, Papua New Guinea, at 7o30’N and 147o14’E. The total nesting beach is about 10 km long, and is bordered by the big Bitoi River to the north and Tabare River to the south. Nesting activity is monitored throughout the entire 10km beach, however, research and management activities are focused on a 3km sampling area.

The initial overriding objective is to determine the number of nesting females in the population and to develop management strategies which might allow future, sustainable harvest of leatherback turtle eggs by the Kamiali community. The overall long-term objective of the research and monitoring program is to protect (from poaching and predation) and conserve the population leatherback turtles in the area. In addition, the project aims to raise local peoples’ understanding and appreciation of the value of the species for present and future generations.

Project Goals:

A.  To protect and manage the long-term survival of leatherback turtles occurring at the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area, PNG.

B.  To quantify nesting population dynamics, monitor adult nesting activity through nightly census patrols, and work to conserve nests from predation and poaching.

C.  To provide education and outreach, raise awareness for conservation, and integrate the local communities in conservation and management activities.

D.  To develop future sustainable use and resource management strategies for leatherback turtle resources (eggs) to promote and conserve traditional practices.

Contact Information

The Kamiali Integrated Conservation Development Group: Karol Kisokau,

Western Pacific Fishery Management Council: Irene Kinan,

Marine Research Foundation: Dr. Nicolas Pilcher,