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Turtle Foundation

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Turtle Foundation
Founded2000 (Turtle Foundation Germany)
FocusProtection of the sea turtles and their marine habitats
  • International office: Cologne, Germany
Area served
MethodImplementation of own protection projects, public relations work, environmental education

Turtle Foundation is an international association of closely cooperating non-profit organizations for the protection of sea turtles and their habitats. Turtle Foundation is primarily operational and currently operates two sea turtle conservation projects in Indonesia and the Republic of Cape Verde. In addition to the direct protection of nesting beaches from poaching by locally hired rangers and volunteers, the Turtle Foundation also carries out accompanying programs such as local and international awareness campaigns, environmental education programs, and support for the local population in the project areas.


The Turtle Foundation currently (2020) consists of seven national institutions which are registered in their countries as non-governmental, non-profit and tax-exempt organisations under local laws: Turtle Foundation Germany (since 2000; registered office: Cologne, status: incorporated foundation under civil law), Turtle Foundation Switzerland (since 2006; registered office: Buchs, status: foundation), Turtle Foundation United States (since 2006; registered office: Bellingham WA; status: non-profit organization under 501(c)(3)), Turtle Foundation Cape Verde (since 2012; local name: Fundação Tartaruga Cabo Verde; registered office: Sal Rei, Boa Vista, status: non-profit organization under Cape Verde law), Turtle Foundation Liechtenstein (since 2014; registered office: Vaduz; status: foundation), Turtle Foundation Indonesia (since 2018; local name: Yayasan Penyu Indonesia; registered office: Tanjung Redeb, Borneo, East Kalimantan, Berau Regency, status: non-profit organization under Indonesian law), and Turtle Foundation UK (since 2019; registered office: London. Parts of the individual organisations’ activities are administered centrally by the international office in Cologne.

Friends Association[edit]

The support association Turtle Foundation Friends e. V. was initially founded in 2009 in Münsing (Germany) as the Turtle Foundation Förderverein (support association) e. V. Since it has been renamed to Turtle Foundation Friends – Förderverein zum Schutz der Meeresschildkröten e.V. (support association for the protection of sea turtles) in 2015, the association has been based in Oberreifenberg, Germany. The purpose of the association is to promote the protection of species and animals, sea turtles in particular, by raising funds through membership fees, donations, proceeds from events, etc. for the purpose of achieving the objectives of Turtle Foundation.


During a diving holiday on the Indonesian coral island of Sangalaki off East Borneo, the Swiss co-founders of the Turtle Foundation Christine Zindel and Frank Zindel experienced the professionally organised exploitation of the nests of the endangered green sea turtle.[1] Shortly after, they watched the documentary "Wanderer in den Weltmeeren" (translates to ‘Hikers in the ocean’, currently no English version available, 01/2020), in which precisely these incidents on Sangalaki were addressed, and contacted the author of the film Eberhard Meyer. Along with Meyer, the Indonesian ethnologist Hiltrud Cordes, and other members, they founded the trust foundation Turtle Foundation in Germany in March 2000. As a result of intensive negotiations with the local government and public relations work, Turtle Foundation was able to obtain restriction quotas for the collection of turtle eggs on Sangalaki for the first time. In January 2002, a complete ban on egg collection was introduced on Sangalaki and a protection station from which local rangers monitored compliance with the ban all year round was installed. In 2008, a further conservation project was launched for loggerhead sea turtles threatened by poaching on the island of [Boa Vista] in the Republic of Cape Verde. In addition to the German Turtle Foundation, six other national organisations have been established since 2006. In 2015, Turtle Foundation Liechtenstein was awarded the Binding Prize for Nature and Environmental Protection.[2]

Tasks and objectives[edit]

The goal of Turtle Foundation is to stop the impending extinction of sea turtles, to restore populations to healthy levels in the long term, and to end cruelty and abusive activities against sea turtles. The Turtle Foundation promotes the sustainability of its conservation projects through accompanying environmental education programs and schemes to create alternative sources of income for the local population with a focus on nature-friendly and sustainable use of coastal and marine habitats.


Derawan Archipelago, East Borneo, Indonesia[edit]

The Derawan islands off East Borneo (East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, Berau Regency are home to the world's eighth largest and Indonesia's largest nesting area of green sea turtles[3]. After the early days on Sangalaki, local rangers financed and trained by the Turtle Foundation protected three important nesting islands of the archipelago (Sangalaki, Bilang-Bilangan, Mataha) from egg thieves between January 2008 and October 2012. Since the Sangalaki project was taken over by the local nature conservation authority in October 2012, the Turtle Foundation's operational activities have been limited to the Bilang-Bilangan and Mataha islands, where about 50% of the annual nesting activity of the Green Sea Turtle takes place in the Derawan archipelago. Since 2014, Turtle Foundation has also been working to protect the endangered hawksbill turtle in the Berau district[4]. Together with local partners, Turtle Foundation is carrying out environmental education and awareness training projects in the region.

Sipora, West Sumatra, Indonesia[edit]

On the Mentawai island of Sipora off West Sumatra, a previously unknown nesting population of the leatherback sea turtle was discovered in 2017. The animals nesting there belong to the leatherback turtle subpopulation of the northeastern Indian Ocean, which is probably endangered by extinction. However, the eggs as well as the nesting animals themselves are regularly consumed by parts of the local population. Since the discovery of the nesting beach, the Turtle Foundation has been running a combined beach protection and community development project on the beach of Buggeisiata on Sipora in cooperation with the local population.

Boavista, Republic of Kap Verde[edit]

The Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa are home to the world's third largest nesting population of the loggerhead sea turtle, with a large proportion of all nesting activity taking place on Boavista. The population is considered as endangered[5] and is among the eleven most endangered sea turtle populations in the world.[6][7] On the beaches of Boavista, female turtles are are being poached in considerable numbers during their annual nesting periods between June and end October. After approximately 1,200 killed turtles were counted on the beaches of Boavista alone in 2007[8], Turtle Foundation, with the support of the Cape Verdean government and the military, set up a field station in the east of the island in 2008 aiming to guard a particularly endangered stretch of beach and thereby reducing the poaching by 90% compared to the previous year.[9] The project was increasingly expanded in the following years and now (2019) comprises a total of five temporary field stations and over 30 kilometres of beach patrolled every night during the nesting season in the northwest, northeast and southeast of Boavista. Night patrols are carried out by Cape Verde rangers and local and international volunteers. Other beach areas of the island are protected by community-based projects funded by the Turtle Foundation. In addition to the direct protection efforts, the Turtle Foundation on Boavista also conducts projects in public relations, alternative income opportunities and environmental education.


Turtle Foundation finances most of its projects through grant-giving foundations, but also through governmental corporate, and private donors. In the financial year from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018, the total expenses of Turtle Foundation reached EUR 707,290, of which EUR 625,115 (88%) after deduction of administrative costs were used for the protection projects.[10]

External links[edit]


  1. Margrit Gabathuler, Martin Gabathuler: Überlebenskampf vor Borneo: Die Turtle Foundation kämpft für den Schutz von Niststränden. (Fight for survival off Borneo: Turtle Foundation fights to protect nesting beaches.) In: Taucher Revue No. 132, 2008, pp. 12–17 (PDF approx. 1.1 MB, retrieved at 15 January 2020)
  2. Award of the Binding Prize for Nature and Environmental Protection on the website of the Binding Foundation. Retrieved at 15 January 2020. In German.
  3. T. Reischig, N. R. Basuki, V. A. Moord, H. Cordes, R. Latorra: Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Berau archipelago, Indonesia: Population assessment, nesting activities, and protection status. In: Jones, T. Todd and Bryan P. Wallace (editors): Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, p. 228 (online). Download of the poster (PDF, approx. 1,1 MB)
  4. Turtle Foundation: Annual Report 2014 (PDF, approx. 1,4 MB)
  5. Casale, P.; Tucker, A.D. (2017). "Caretta caretta (amended version of 2015 assessment)". 2017: e.T3897A119333622. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T3897A119333622.en. |access-date= requires |url= (help) Status report of the IUCN about the north east Atlantic subpopulation of the loggerhead sea turtle.
  6. Conservation International: Turtles in trouble – 11 most threatened sea turtle populations in the world identified. Retrieved at 15. January 2020.
  7. B. P. Wallace, A. D., DiMatteo, A. B. Bolten, M. Y. Chaloupka, B. J. Hutchinson, F. A. Abreu-Grobois, et al.: Global conservation priorities for marine turtles. In: PLOS One, 6(9): e24510. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024510
  8. A. Marco, Abella, A. Liria-Loza, S. Martins, O. López, S. Jiménez-Bordón, M. Medina, C. Oujo, P. Gaona, B. J. Godley, L. F. López-Jurado: Abundance and exploitation of loggerhead turtles nesting in Boa Vista Island: the only substantial rookery in the eastern Atlantic. In: Animal Conservation, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 351–360. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2012.00547.x
  9. Turtle Foundation: Annual Report 2008 (PDF, approx. 1.6 MB)
  10. Turtle Foundation: Annual Report 2018 (PDF, approx. 2.9 MB)

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