Location: Northeast of Cap Verde, 450 km from the West of Senegal
Number of inhabitants: 0
Number of visitors:
Users: ~20-30 traditional fishermen per week in low season, up to 80 in summer
Protected island: yes
Marine protection status: partial Marine Protected Area (MPA) around Santa Luzia
The island of Santa Luzia and its two satellites, Branco and Raso, are part of the Cape Verde archipelago. These three islands are deserted, and frequented mainly by fishermen who live in the neighboring islands. The marine protected area is very important for local populations because it represents a major source of income in a context of high unemployment.
Despite their aridity, these islands have a great diversity of endemic terrestrial and marine species (26 bird species, 6 of which are endemic).
The island of Santa Luzia is the smallest island in Cape Verde. It presents the remains of a volcanic apparatus whose main crater corresponds to the large bay facing north. Mountainous and steep, the island is mainly made up of basaltic mantles, alternating with tuff and pyroclasts. At the southern end, another volcanic device generated a basaltic plateau partially covered with dunes. Numerous limestone formations are scattered throughout the island; the presence of certain fossils testifies to a possible marine origin.
The lack of water did not allow people to settle on the island, despite the beginnings of agricultural activities and the extraction of sore (French purple).
Today, Santa Luzia is frequented mainly by fishermen from rural communities of the neighboring islands (Sao Vicente, Santo Antao, Sao Nicolau).
The social context of the reserve is directly linked to the fishing communities that use this protected area. The level of education hardly exceeds the country’s minimum education. This helps to explain the high unemployment rate, especially among young people (the island of São Vicente has one of the highest rates in the country, around 23%).
It is estimated that 6,443 people depend directly or indirectly on the fishery resources of the Santa Luzia marine protected area. 16% of them are artisanal fishermen.
The main economic sector is traditional fishing. The National Directorate for the Environment estimates that the monthly income of a fisherman is around 195 euros. Animal husbandry, trade and remittances from workers emigrated often supplement this source of income.
Tourism is seen as a sector with great potential that can improve the situation of the communities, but there has been no strategic plan for the tourist exploitation of the reserve so far.
On the three islands, herbaceous vegetation dominates due to high aridity; only a few species of grasses, a few shrubs and a single tree species survive (on the island of Santa Luzia only): Prosopis Juliflora.
Due to their unique place in the Atlantic Ocean, the waters surrounding Santa Luzia, Branco and Raso are a privileged breeding ground for many marine species, including the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and nesting for the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). There is also a great diversity of fish (about 88 species from 36 different families).
The low presence of humans makes these islands a prime habitat for certain species. There is an interesting rate of endemism there: the Cape Verde Shearwater (Calonectris edwardsii), the Razo’s lark (Alauda razae), the red-billed phaeton (Phaeton aethereus) and the brown booby (Sula leucogaster).
Litter washed up on beaches and invasive species (rats and cats) threaten turtle spawning and seabird nesting. Cleaning and management campaigns have been carried out but the results are not satisfactory enough for the moment.
As fishing is the main source of income for neighboring populations, one of the challenges is to protect this area by preserving fishery resources and to accommodate fishermen who stay on the island for a few days in structured camps.
A Solar Desalinator to ease human activities on Santa Luzia
Producing biogas by reducing organic waste pollution on Santa Luzia
In Santa Luzia, shelters to facilitate conservation operation