Ilha do Fogo Island
Ilha do Fogo is located in the coastal waters of northern Mozambique and forms part of the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago.
The land-base for the island operations is in Pebane with Quelimane being the closest airport. To get to Pebane, visitors can fly into Quelimane and then transfer by road (362km). Groups of 4 or less will be collected from Quelimane with a vehicle and trailer while bigger groups will be transferred by air-conditioned minibus. Be warned though, the road and weather conditions have a big influence on the time that it takes to make the trip.
At present, there is one flight a day from Maputo which lands either late afternoon or early evening not leaving enough time for the journey to Pebane. We use two hotels in Quelimane, Millennium and Flamingo. The stay-over allows visitors to acclimatize a bit and shop for luxuries that are not available in Pebane or on the island.
The history of the island
Robert Koski purchased Ilha do Fogo several years ago with the plan of building a boutique resort on the island. He asked Jan van Deventer to establish the infrastructure on the island because of his experience with doing the logistics on remote locations for the film industry.
The transaction took almost 4 years to complete during which Robert spent a lot of time on the island and in the area. He realized that there was a massive problem with the harvesting of sea turtles in the area. Even though the Mozambican government and the WWF declared the area an international marine reserve it had no impact as the area is so remote that law enforcement is almost impossible.
Robert then commissioned the production of a documentary about the island and the issues around the harvesting of the turtles and the area.
While researching the documentary, it quickly became clear that there were many underlying issues around the subject and that there were many other species in much bigger danger of becoming extinct than the turtles because of over-harvesting and the general depletion of our natural resources and the destruction of habitat.
In the south of Mozambique, there is a very successful marine conservation program in the Maputo Special Reserve driven by Peace Parks and Mozambican Parks Board, under leadership of Miguel Gonçalves. Their model seemed to work and therefore it was the obvious place to start with the documentary and then see if the same model could be implemented in the North and on the islands.
Miguel Gonçalves took over the management of the Maputo Special Reserve Marine Conservation 8 years ago and during this period they’ve had great success fighting the poaching of turtles and other threatened species in the area. The key to their success is that they did not just go and enforce the laws protecting the species. They also managed to get the community involved and the community became the marine protectors and turtle monitors.
Obviously this did not happen overnight; it was a long process. First, the local community had to be able to see value in protecting turtles and other species. The MSR now has a hugely successful marine and terrestrial conservation program including the local community being involved in the monitoring of the nesting areas, tagging the turtles, and doing guided turtle walks during the nesting and hatching seasons.
With Ilha do Fogo and Pebane district the goal is to turn the archipelago into a safe haven for marine species with the hawksbill and green turtles nesting in the area being our key residents.