Colombia has established a network to respond to emergencies involving stranded Antillean manatees, an enormous aquatic mammal facing extinction, through partnerships with environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities.
“The villagers know that they really are part of the process, and that their work is not limited to just passing data to us. They are seen as local researchers, and that has meant a lot to them,” says Leonor Valenzuela, coordinator of analysis and synthesis at Wildlife Conservation Society Colombia.
The network, called RVM (Red de Varamientos de Manatíes de Magdalena Medio), translated to the Magdalena Medio region’s Stranded Manatees Network, has set up a 24-hour emergency response contact where anyone can report a manatee in distress. Strategic partnerships were established in Santander in 2010, but the network was officially established in 2023, expanding its activities to Antioquia, César, and Bolívar. Between January 2010 and July 2023, environmental organizations answered 40 emergencies. The marine mammal is classified as endangered by the IUCN’s Red List.