Volunteers and scientists spent decades on a conservation program designed to help the population of green turtles and loggerheads stay afloat in North Cyprus, and their efforts paid off: the species’ populations are thriving!
“Numbers have increased a lot because of the protection [we give them],” says Kutlay Keço, chairman of the North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Turtles. “It’s the best project in the whole of the Mediterranean, if not the whole world.”
Among the conservation actions taken, the installation of cages has been the most important one. It was the best way to protect turtles against dogs and foxes. The nesting beaches were then patrolled on a daily – and sometimes – nightly basis during the six-month nesting season. Since 1993, the number of green turtle nests has increased by 162%, and loggerheads, by 46%. Today, there are more than 2,400 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nests in North Cyprus, a small territory covering 3,355 square kilometers, tenfold the number of nests counted in 1988 when the first survey was conducted.