An African wedgefish (Rhynchobatus luebberti) landed by artisanal fishermen and sold in Songolo (Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List). Photo Credit: Godefroy De Bruyne

Animals Republic of the Congo 14. February 2024

Endangered Shark and Ray Species Found

Artisanal fishers recently found endangered sharks and rays – two believed to be gone from the region – off the coast of the Republic of Congo.

Researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom worked alongside artisanal fisherman in Congo’s waters. In their three-year-long study recently published in Conservation Science and Practice, over 73,000 individual sharks and rays were tallied, totaling 42 different species. Of the 42 found species, 34 are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The team of scientists involved in the study have emphasized that their success is thanks to their relationships with locals in the area. Kristian Metcalfe, a conservation scientist at the University of Exeter, emphasizes that if “conservation scientists want to have an impact, we can’t just drop in, do a study, and leave. We have to invest in the long term. I don’t want to walk away from all the relationships and trust we have built now because I feel like we are at the cusp of making a change.” A large fishing trade still exists in the region, so scientists working on the study have encouraged local fishermen to invest in new gear that would allow them to avoid catching juveniles and specific endangered species. “This sort of data is invaluable for conservation and management,” adds David Shiffman, a conservation biologist at Arizona State University.


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