Dr George Hughes. Photo by Alistair Swanson

Dr George Hughes, author of the widely read Between the Tides – In Search of Sea Turtles (Jacana, 2012) and Drakensberg Ranger – 4 Years at Giant’s Castle, 1961 - 1965 (Platanna Press, 2014), will be giving a talk on sea turtle conservation at the Two Oceans Aquarium on 3 September 2015 at 18:30. Seats are limited to 100 so be sure to reserve your place soon – Dr Hughes’ books will be on sale. Email members@aquarium.co.za to book your spot.

The event is free but you are welcome to make a donation to the Two Oceans Aquarium’s conservation fund or to purchase a Turtle Buff, all raised funds going towards our turtle rehabilitation and release programme.

Sea Turtles: 52 Years of Conservation Success

(1963 – 2015)

The presentation will cover the history and biology of all species of sea turtles but will concentrate on the South Western Indian Ocean programmes and nesting sites. Launched in the summer season of 1963/64, the Sea Turtle programme on the Maputaland Coast of KwaZulu-Natal was initiated by the Natal Parks Board in response to complaints that turtles were being killed on the beaches near Kosi Bay. The first survey revealed that two species of sea turtle nested in South Africa, the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the latter being the world’s second largest reptile reaching lengths in excess of 3 metres.

Since then the programme has been carried out every year with a team of local amaThonga temporary patrolling staff supporting a few permanent field officers and rangers. The recovery of the turtle populations has been more than encouraging with annual loggerhead numbers growing exponentially.

Only in 2014 was yet a third species, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) found nesting on this beautiful coast.

The turtle research started in 1963 has had a broad ripple effect in the rest of the Indian Ocean and there are active programmes, often started by South African scientists, all around Madagascar (especially good ones on the Scattered Islands [Les Iles Eparses] controlled from the French Island of Reunion), Mozambique, the Islamic Republic of the Comores and the Seychelles.

In many cases results have been positive indeed and the very threatened status of our turtles has changed dramatically over the past 52 years.

About Dr George Hughes

Dr Hughes’ CV will make you sit up and listen. The avid hiker and flyfisherman was born in Scotland, but finished his secondary education in Estcourt and his tertiary qualifications at the then-University of Natal. Once he completed his PhD in Zoology at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban, Dr Hughes was:

  • A game ranger/fisheries officer with the then-Natal Parks Board (1961 – 1965)
  • A founding member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (1969)
  • Director of the then-Natal Parks Board (1988)
  • Awarded the Dr Edgar Brookes Award for Human Freedom and Endeavour by the Convocation of the then-University of Natal (1991)
  • Leader of SA Delegation to UNEP (Nairobi) Meeting on Rhinoceros Conservation (1993)
  • Sent as Scientific and Conservation Advisor to Seychelles (1993)
  • Appointed CEO, KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services (1999)
  • Appointed Chief Executive Officer, KZN Conservation Trust (2002)
  • Made patron of the Wildlands Conservation Trust (2006)
  • Received “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the International Sea Turtle Society at the 29th Annual Sea Turtle Symposium, Brisbane, Australia (2009)
  • Published Between the Tides – In Search of Sea Turtles (Jacana) (2012)
  • Awarded the Order of the Bataleur by the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association for a life-time commitment to the sustainable use of wildlife as a conservation tool (2014)
  • Published Drakensberg Ranger – 4 Years at Giant’s Castle, 1961 - 1965 (Platanna Press) (2014)
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