Save and reintroduce manatees in Guadeloupe

Hi! My name is Natalia Rozniewska. I'm a wildlife veterinarian and director of the non-profit association "Capture and Release: Capture Images, Release Species". I am fundraising for our next mission related to manatees reintroduction in the Caribbean island - in Guadeloupe.

The video below will introduce you our project.

Manatees, also known as "sea cows”, are loved for their peaceful and curious character.
These slow marine mammals live in coastal waters where they can feed on seagrass. However, the proximity to human populations has brought many risks to the survival of manatees. Boat collisions, pollution, and habitat degradation are making manatee populations become smaller and fragmented.

In Guadeloupe, French island in the Lesser Antilles, manatees went extinct a century ago. In the past, they were hunted for food. Today, hectares of seagrass beds and Guadeloupe’s mangrove forests are missing a large herbivore like a manatee, who is key to healthy coastal ecosystems.

But the hope is not yet gone. The well-preserved habitat in Guadeloupe was the subject of 10 years of studies by an international group of expert scientists. The feasibility analysis showed that manatees reintroduction in Guadeloupe is possible.

If successful, it will be the first marine mammal reintroduction to the habitat from where it went extinct. It can become a model for the rest of the world. It can help save manatees’ populations in the wider Caribbean region thanks to the support for research and rehabilitation facilities that this project will bring. It can help re-establish the balance in the marine ecosystem in Guadeloupe and aid sustainable development on this island.

The reintroduction project had so many benefits, that it received 6 million euros from the European LIFE program. Guadeloupe National Park, who led this project, invested in manatee care facilities, and trained a team of keepers and vets in manatee rescue centers in Florida and Brazil. Finally, in 2016, the first two manatees were brought to Guadeloupe.

Being a pioneer, however, is not an easy task and it involves a process of constant learning and adapting. Unfortunately, the difficulties met by the project, the unstable political support it received, and especially internal conflicts in the leading organization harmed the project’s functioning and the people who worked for it. As a result, in 2018 the project was abandoned.

As a non-profit association Capture and Release, we believe we can make a positive change. We are aware of the ecological potential that this reintroduction project represents in the world of increasing biodiversity and climate crisis. And we want to give it a second chance.

We are producing a documentary film “Manman-dlo”, which means “manatee” in Creole, the local language in Guadeloupe. Our aim: raise awareness in Guadeloupe and initiate the restart of the manatees reintroduction project.

This crowdfunding will help to cover the costs of 15 days of filming in Guadeloupe and organizing a debate during 17th edition of the documentary film festival in Guadeloupe "Terra Festival". These costs include: plane tickets for staff, meals, car rental on site and video equipment rent. Our staff is unpaid and 100% of their time during this mission is their voluntary contribution to the project.

Thank you for your support!

To learn more, visit our website and social media.

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Your donation is the start of Natalia Rozniewska's journey to success. Your early support inspires others to donate.

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