S2S scientific research is laying the groundwork for manatee conservation in Africa
Sea to Shore senior research scientist Lucy Keith Diagne is conducting a multi-year, collaborative project comprising research, training for African manatee biologists and educational outreach components to assess manatee status and distribution throughout the species range. This study is conducting the first range-wide genetics study of the African manatee to determine where distinct populations exist, as well as the first feeding ecology and age determination studies for the species. Lucy conducts field surveys and other life history research at her long-term study sites in Gabon and Senegal, and she also trains and collaborates with African manatee biologists in many other African countries.
The African manatee is the most endangered and least understood member of the four living manatee and dugong species. They live in the rivers, estuaries, and lagoons of 21 countries along the Atlantic African coast, and as far as 2000 miles inland in rivers in Mali and Chad. There are no accurate population estimates for the species, and the largest threats are hunting and the construction of numerous dams across all major African rivers that now permanently isolate manatee populations. The knowledge, training, and educational materials and programs this project generates is providing much needed new information on status of the species, and a starting point for conservation and management actions.