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Saving the African Manatee

In Senegal and Gabon, local and international scientists and conservationists are determined to study and protect these mysterious creatures from fishing, habitat loss, to illegal hunting. Manatees – the gardeners of the seas– spend most of the day under water grazing and sleeping. They are unhurried witnesses to an ancient past. Today, there are less than 10’000 West African Manatees left. While the West African Manatee is protected by the national laws of all the countries it lives in, and since 2013 also by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, no specific conservation measures have been undertaken so far. Almost a decade ago the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species negotiated an agreement to protect manatees and coastal dolphins, but the agreement has been given no energy or commitment. Manatees are still being hunted for their meat, they suffocate in gillnets and increasingly lose their habitats.