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I’m in Togo to attend the Convention of Migratory Species WATCH (West African Cetaceans and Their Habitat- yes, manatees got lumped in with cetaceans). The meeting is being held at a nice hotel in Lomé, the capital of Togo.

Woman walking along the beach front road in front of the hotel.

Building upon the work we started at the meeting last year, the goal for this meeting was to finalize the MOU for Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macronesia (Macronesia refers to the islands off the west coast of Africa), as well as Action Plans for the West African Manatee and for Small Cetaceans. In other words, three large bureaucratic documents to be signed by 21 range states (countries) which will then hopefully be implemented ranging from regional and national levels to local levels in each country. It’s an ambitious task and an interesting experience to participate in. I’ve been impressed by the interest and earnestness of the delegates and the discussions have been very focused. But as you might suspect, there is also quite a bit of time spent discussing word choice (“key” vs. “priority” species was discussed for so long I wanted to bang my head against the table) and in making sure the English and French versions of the documents read the same way (which is important, but again requires a lot of time focusing on word choice). In addition to country representatives, several NGOs were represented including Wildlife Trust (me), Wildlife Conservation Society, Wetlands International and IFAW.

At this meeting I gave out copies of the new French version of the West African manatee coloring book that Save the Manatee Club just produced at my request. People here were really excited about it and there’s a clear need for educational outreach tools throughout the region. I also got requests for, and supplied the electronic version to, representatives from Benin, Togo, Mali, Sierra Leone and Cotê D’Ivoire. So this coloring book has already gone much further than Gabon.This afternoon the range states approved the MoU, and it was signed by 15 countries and 3 NGOs (including me for Wildlife Trust). It’s exciting to have made this progress for the species! Other countries (and NGOs) are likely to sign later; they need approval from their home governments before they can sign.

The signing ceremony
Group photo of the signatories
Celebrating with friends from Mali and Togo!

1 Comment
  • Coralie

    October 17, 2008 at 4:11 pm Reply

    Hey Lucy, that’s great that people like the French manatee book and already use it.

    I am waiting to see more pictures and read your stories in two weeks.


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