Twelve years of "Astro" in Sergipe State: in search of harmony between the manatee and the local waterside communities

Foppell, Ernesto Frederico da Costa; Ferrari, Stephen Francis
October 2012
Acta Scientiarum: Biological Sciences;2012, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p429
Academic Journal
The Antillean manatee (Trithechus manatus) is the most threatened aquatic mammal in Brazil. It was considered to be extinct in Sergipe until 1998, when a re-introduced animal (Astro) arrived. Given plans for the re-introduction of more animals, a survey was conducted of the waterside communities of the animal's home range, on the southern coast of Sergipe. Between March and November, 2009, 27 people were interviewed in 12 communities, using a 14-item questionnaire. All the interviewees knew Astro and were familiar with his behaviour. The primary source of tension between the animal and the community is its habit of approaching vessels and, in particular, fishing equipment. Some fishermen reported that he takes fish from their nets. While most local residents are tolerant of the animal's presence, some interviewees reported aggression in the context of fishing. Most of the interviewees agreed with the idea of re-introducing more animals locally, but conflicts related to fishing were seen as the main potential problem. Given this, there is a clear need for a comprehensive environmental education programme, in order to guarantee the conservation of the species in the region.


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