To protect our flagship megafauna species, as well as the economic value of marine tourism in the region, MMF is strongly focused on long-term conservation strategies. Successful conservation and management require good baseline information and our various scientific programs ensure that we have the most robust data and current population trends available. Beyond this, MMF staff are working in partnership with local communities, provincial and national government and other Mozambican conservation organisations to highlight the key threats to vulnerable megafauna species and identify their critical habitats along the coastline.
Whale sharks, manta rays and other marine megafauna like dugongs are charismatic ambassadors for marine conservation. MMF continues to use these species to promote local economic development through the creation of a sustainable marine tourism industry in the Inhambane Province. Over the long-term, MMF staff aim to encourage sustainable alternatives to destructive fishing practices to secure the health of the southern Mozambican coast. These shifts will translate into a viable future for this important region of the coastline. To ensure that local communities derive long-term benefits from healthy populations of marine animals, MMF works with organizations like Ocean Revolutions, Bitonga Divers, and AMAR to help promote job opportunities for local Mozambicans within the tourism sector, directly in marine conservation and management, and through vocational craft schemes. MMF staff also support Mozambican academics studying marine science and conducting coastal research.
The current focus of our conservation program is on achieving protected status for manta rays (Manta birostris and M. alfredi) and whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Mozambique. Manta rays are still unsustainably fished in the Inhambane Province and whale sharks are being entangled in nets. Both species appear to be in swift decline. Megafauna species currently protected in Mozambique include: Marine mammals Dugong (Dugong dugon), Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), Indo-pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Marine turtles, Loggerhead (Caretta caretta ), Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and a single species of shark, the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias). A major precursor to management in the south of the country is protective legislation. Once these animals are afforded official protection by the government, management efforts can begin in earnest, including proper monitoring of illegal poaching and the reduction of other anthropogenic threats.
One of MMF’s long-standing mottos is “Think Global, Act Local”. To that end, our scientific data are used to evaluate the international conservation status of our flagship species (for example, IUCN Red List assessments) and provide fundamental data for international protection (e.g. the Convention for Migratory Species Act (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Maintaining an active role in international conservation initiatives ensures that the species that we study are protected not only in the regions that MMF works, but also globally in all areas of the species distribution.