The Biosphere, based in Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, is developing its conservation actions for species and ecosystems mainly in the deserted and protected islands of Santa Luzia, Raso and Branco, in close collaboration with the National Directorate for the Environment.
However, many research, awareness and mobilization activities for citizens are organized on the other islands of the Barlavento (São Nicolau and Santo Antão), as well as throughout the national territory.
With an area of 35 Km2, Santa Luzia is the largest island in the Desertas Islands complex. Inhabited in the past, but currently deserted, fishermen are the most frequent presence, using it as a haven during fishing excursions. With an arid and dry climate, Santa Luzia hosts species unique to Cape Verde being one of the main focuses of intervention in the field of the Biosphere. The NGO regularly follows the reproduction of the Common Turtle, carries out actions to remove coastal waste, monitors the success of the reintroduction of Calhandra-do-ilhéu-Raso, develops actions to control invasive species to protect its biodiversity and promotes and logistically supports all scientific work that encompasses not only endemic terrestrial species (eg. geckos) but also marine species (eg. shark).
It was the first Biosphere workplace, who camped on the island in 2006 to prevent the massacre of seabirds. Raso has one of the most important colonies of seabirds in Cape Verde, with 6 of the 9 species that breed there, namely the Cagarra, the Pedreiro, the João-Preto, the Pedreirinho, the Rabo-de-Junco and the Alcatraz. From 5.8 km2, it was up to 2018, the only home of one of the most endangered birds in the world, the Raso-islet-calhandra. Its arid plains are home to several unique terrestrial reptile species, most of which are endangered species that require urgent intervention.
After repeatedly denouncing the illegal activities of a group of poachers in Raso, the Biosphere has been forced to stop its conservation actions since June 2021 due to recurring threats. We are waiting for the authorities' reaction to resume our activities.
With 2.8 km2 Branco is the smallest islet of the Desertas Islands complex, and is also the most inaccessible due to its steep topography and imminent danger of collapse. This inaccessibility has protected it from human intervention and degradation caused by the introduction of non-native predators. Once used as a prison island where the condemned were left to die, this islet was also very likely the last stronghold of the Giant Lizard, a mythical species now extinct. The works of the Biosphere on the islet are exclusively with the colonies of sea birds, more specifically those of Pedreiro-azul, which in Desertas only nest here. Given the difficulties in working in Branco, the dimensions of marine colonies are largely unknown, and may be (for some species) equally representative of those that exist in the Raso.
Island of Cape Verdean musical and artistic culture, São Vicente was actually one of the last islands to be colonized due to the lack of drinking water. This island stands out for its countless beaches interspersed by the mountain landscape and extinct volcanic craters.
São Vicente is the headquarters of the Biosphere, our center of action and therefore where it has done more work with the communities. From lectures at schools and universities, traveling exhibitions, cultural events, lobbying campaigns on television and radio, collection and rescue of wild animals, the Biosphere continually marks its presence to publicize, amplify and inspire the local population to protect their values natural.
Island of nostalgia sung by Cesária Évora in her resounding musical success “Sodade”, São Nicolau stands out for its very varied mountain landscape that contrasts with its architectural past. It is distinguished from the other islands by its agricultural potential and the marked presence of the imposing dragon tree, a species typical of the Macaronesian islands, considered rare and in danger of extinction. Here the Biosphere works exclusively with children and adolescents where in early 2019 he visited several schools in São Nicolau, who got to know the Edu caterpillar and its history. Since 2017, São Nicolau has also been visited by NGO technicians for regular work (censuses, monitoring) with species of nesting sea birds on the island.
With a green and lush landscape fed by the almost eternal mist of the mountains, Santo Antão is one of the most important agricultural centers for the archipelago. Working almost exclusively with the communities, awareness-raising activities began with fishermen in the Synagogue when the NGO was created, because they are the community that most hunted sea birds in the shallows. After this intervention, these activities ceased and the former hunters of Cagarra-de-Cabo Verde became their protectors, integrating the various work of monitoring the species. In 2019, the little ones received the NGO mascot, Cagarra Edu, in their schools to learn more about Cape Verde's seabirds. Since 2017, NGO technicians have been carrying out regular monitoring and population censuses of nesting seabird species on the island.