The Leatherback Turtle
Just about all sea turtle species are to some degree threatened with extinction. Mostly this is due to egg harvesting, plastic pollution in the ocean and indiscriminate fishing practices. The enormous leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is no different and is listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.
More about this species
Sea turtle conservation is primarily about two things: securing nesting beaches, and managing ocean habitat. Nesting colonies, known as rookeries, may play host to between 30 and 100 leatherbacks a season, each laying multiple clutches on the beach where they themselves hatched some 15 years or more before. Many rookeries have crashed as a result of overharvesting and the global population of this species has fallen nearly 80%. Very few rookeries are stable or showing an increase in numbers. Thankfully, one of these is located along 40 km of beach at Rocktail Camp in Maputaland.
Where to see them
We have been helping monitor leather and loggerhead turtles at Rocktail Camp for more than a decade, and during the nesting season we encourage our guests to participate too. The opportunity to watch a female turtle laying eggs on the very beach on which she hatched without concern for her observers is a life-changing one.