In order to reduce the cost of patrols, collect data more efficiently and facilitate the coastal surveillance efforts of those involved in marine turtle conservation in West Africa, members of the West African Marine Turtle Conservation Network (WASTCON) have received training in the use of drones for the conservation of biodiversity and marine and coastal ecosystems.
It took place from 25 to 28 April 2023 in the intervention zone of the NGO Conservation des Espèces Marines (CEM), namely the beaches of the Grand-Béréby marine protected area in Côte d’Ivoire.
Sponsored by Queen Mary University of London and led by Professor Christophe Eizaguirre and two long-standing partners of the Cape Verde PPI, Albert Taxonera Amoros of the NGO Associação Projeto Biodiversidade and Alberto Queiruga Maneiro of the NGO Biosfera.
Fourteen members of the WASTCON network from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Gambia took part. During the course, participants were given theoretical and practical information on the use of drones.
The theoretical sessions enabled participants to acquire knowledge about the different types of drones available, their uses and limitations, and the safety protocols to be observed before any flight. During the practical sessions, learners had the opportunity to test the different safety protocols, carry out manoeuvres with the drones, design transects for monitoring missions, carry out photogrammetry and analyse patrol data using different types of software.
The course was deemed highly instructive by the participants, who were delighted with the new knowledge they had acquired on the use of drones for beach surveillance and monitoring. With a view to the future, and on the basis of the concepts acquired, it is up to the participants to set up or consolidate their marine biodiversity monitoring systems and to question the relevance or otherwise of using drones. For WASTCON and its members, the aim is to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of marine turtle populations in West Africa.
This collective training session was also an opportunity for the network’s members to hold their ordinary General Meeting. This provided an opportunity to present and validate the results of activities carried out in 2022, to reappoint the outgoing Executive Board headed by President Diaby Tidiane, to analyse new applications for membership of the network (the Gambian NGO Smile for Life is now a new member) and finally to discuss the network’s current strengths and weaknesses and its prospects for 2023.