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2012 Kitabanga Project Faculty of Sciences University Agostinho Neto Original Book Title in Portuguese: Tartarugando – Estórias de Crianças Title of Book in English: Turtling – Children’s Stories Kitabanga Project Coordination: Miguel Morais Project Technical Team: Gizela Ndozuawu, Jessica Afonso, Sofia Costa Book Coordination: Sendi Baptista and Vladimir Russo Cover: Fernando HUGO Fernandes Layout: Carol Vieira Lovera Illustrations: Fernando HUGO Fernandes Carol Vieira Lovera Translation & Revision Mónica Machado & Peter Horrocks Printed by: Edições de Angola Print Run: 1000 copies Sponsors: BP, Petrobras, Sol Bank, Sol Foundation, Holísticos Partners: Kissama Foundation



Legal Deposit: 5680/12 1st edition: November 2012



Adilson Zeferino

Áureo José Francisco

Florêncio Franciso

Lucas Mediato António Osvaldo Cristóvão Vanuza José

The Kitabanga Project for Marine Turtle Conservation is a project developed by the Department of Biology of the Faculty of Sciences at the University Agostinho Neto running since 2003. The practical component of this project includes identifying and protecting both nests and turtles during the spawning period, attaching satellite transmitters to turtles and monitoring their migration routes, assessing accidental turtle catching in nets, etc. However, this project also has a social component aiming at promoting lectures and environmental education activities, and providing fishing community members with the knowledge they need to actively participate in nest counting and protection activities. Currently, the Kitabanga Project is run on 28 km of beaches, covering Palmeirinhas, Longa, Kissembo and Furado beaches, in the provinces of Luanda, Kwanza Sul, Zaire and Namibe, respectively. Up to December 2011, 5352 nests have been recorded and protected, of which only 108 were leatherback turtle nests. Miguel Morais Project Coordinator


THE TURTLING BOOK This book is one of the results of the actions carried out by the Environmental Education and Awareness Programme integrated into the Kitabanga Project. By sharing information, knowledge and experiences that hopefully will lead to protection and preservation behaviours towards marine turtles and their habitats, this programme aims at educating both the population and the beach users and raising their awareness about environmental issues. The seven stories included in this book were adapted from tales written by children from Cabaril and Parede in Palmeirinhas, and Hogiua in Longa. They were selected through a story and drawing competition which took place in those schools in 2011. The stories express the ideas and knowledge of those children in what concerns the sea and the sea turtles. “Turtling” is associated with the stories and fantasies of those children who are fortunate to deal with marine turtles and also continuously exposed to the efforts of the Kitabanga Project team made to protect these sensitive and threatened animals.

Index Monday

The turtle and the hunter . . . . . . . . 6-7


A turtle called Arlea . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-9


The life of a marine turtle . . . . . . . 10-1 1


The turtle and João Zamba . . . . . . 12-13


The beaches of Longa . . . . . . . . . . 14-15

Saturday The tortoise and the marine turtle . 16-17

Sunday The village children help the turtles . 18-19


ne Sunday evening Joaquim went to the beach to hunt a turtle. He waited for a while but there was none nearby and he fell asleep on the sand. Later, a leatherback turtle coming from the sea arrived at the beach to lay her eggs. The turtle, seeing Joaquim had a knife hanging from his belt, approached him very gently and took his knife away, burying it in the sand. When Joaquim wakes up and sees the turtle he goes for his knife but... suddenly realises the knife is gone. Angrily, he asks the turtle: - “What did you do with my knife?�


- “I have hidden your knife to protect myself from you”, says the turtle. “Don’t you know I am a threatened marine animal? Being threatened means you may not kill me nor destroy my nests.” - “Look, I know you are a threatened animal. But I need to feed my family and you are an easy prey”, says Joaquim. While listening to this, the turtle got very sad and then she answered: - “If you kill me you will be contributing to destroying the marine fauna. The human beings are destroying and polluting our home, so, instead of hunting us you should help to save us. Well, you could feed your family by fishing, farming or breeding cattle.” The turtle argument left Joaquim absolutely speechless. He gave it a thought and then answered: - “I am so sorry! I did not know that turtles were all that important. From now on I will protect the turtles and their nests.”



nce upon a time there was a turtle called Arlea. She was a very pretty turtle. In fact, she was the most beautiful turtle of all the seas. One day, Arlea was strolling around the beach when a witch came and said: - “You are very pretty but I hate live turtles because they are such a food delicacy!” The witch tried to catch the poor turtle but Arlea managed to escape and hide at the house of her boyfriend. While Arlea was running away the wicked witch kept saying: z - “Next time you shall not escape!” But Arlea’s boyfriend comforted her, saying “Don’t be afraid. She will not hurt you”. Her friends, the octopus, the crab and the hairtail also agreed, saying that nobody would hurt her. So, all the marine animals got together and agreed that they would expel the witch from the seas next time she started chasing the turtles again. Since then, the witch was scared that all the marine animals could one day avenge themselves on her for all her evilness and the turtles were never again hunted, living happy ever after.


he marine turtles live at sea, but once every year the female turtles come to shore. These animals swim very long distances and when they arrive at the beach they bury their eggs on the sand. To do that, the turtles dig a hole where they then lay over one hundred eggs! After spawning (that is to say, laying their eggs), the turtles cover the hole with sand so that the eggs are protected. After that, the female turtles return to the sea and do not come back to visit their nests...


Some weeks later, the eggs hatch and the juvenile turtles slowly head towards the sea, which is not without some dangers. Very often, they have to try and avoid crabs and seagulls. Even when they eventually reach the sea, the marine turtles have to face the dangers all by themselves, and they never ever meet their parents. The leatherback turtle is the largest of all marine turtles, therefore some people also call it the giant turtle. In Angola, this turtle is also known as Kitabanga, which means “giant� in Kimbundu, one of the languages spoken in this country.

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nce upon a time there was a man called João Zamba who went to the beach to look for marine turtles. While walking on the sand, he met a giant turtle, a turtle that in Kimbundu, our language, is also called Kitabanga. Upon meeting the turtle, João said: - “Ah, I have just found what I have been looking for for months!” While the turtle was busy burying her eggs on the beach, João was, on the other hand, anxiously waiting for her to finish because he wanted to grab the eggs to eat them. But this was a giant turtle, so, laying on the nest protecting her eggs, she stood up to João and said:


- “You want to eat my eggs, do you? Listen, each one of these eggs is going to turn into a giant turtle like me. The giant turtles are very important to keep the balance at sea. Did you know that? We feed on jellyfish and if we all die, the jellyfish will invade your beaches.” João was very surprised with what the turtle was saying and he realised that without sea turtles the sea could become a dangerous place, and fishermen could stop having fish to catch. Therefore João told the turtle that she could go back to sea and rest assured that he would not touch her eggs. Even more, he would not let anyone else destroy the turtle nests. After this, the turtle went back to sea safe and sound.



ne day, a turtle and her three friends came from the high seas to shore. When they were laying their eggs on the beach, a man approached them with the intention of killing them and grabbing their eggs. Pretending to be nice, he started chatting with them, saying: - “My dear little turtles, may I look after your eggs when you go back to sea?” The turtles did not trust this man’s intentions. They immediately remembered the advice of Stela, the wise tern, who had told them that some men destroy the nests to eat the eggs, then kill the turtles to use their carapaces as ornamental pieces.

So they firmly answered:

- “No, we know you don’t want to help us. We are going to choose a protected beach where we can lay our eggs safely.” Stela, the tern, flying all over the sea, knew that on the beaches of Longa the turtles and their nests were protected by the people. So she passed this information to the four turtles who then swam to the beaches of Longa where they could safely bury their eggs.


o you know the origin of the tortoise and the marine turtle? In my village there are many explanations on this. But I am going to tell you the version I like the most and that I heard from Adão, our village sage. A long time ago, there was a party taking place in the sky, but only those with wings could go. The tortoise really wanted to go to that party but she had no wings and no idea on how to fly. So, after a long consideration, she decided the best way was to get inside the sparrowhawk’s briefcase.


The sparrowhawk, not knowing the tortoise was inside his briefcase, carried her to the party. And so the tortoise went to the party in the sky. The party was two days long and the tortoise danced so much that she ended up being very tired. She fell asleep and did not notice that the party was over and that everybody had returned to the ground. When she woke up, realising she was alone, she did not know how to get back. But then she saw a mountain so high that it was touching the clouds. So the tortoise jumped from the top of that mountain, and on her way down she started losing her eggs. Some eggs landed on the ground and some others dropped to the sea. From that date on we started having tortoises on the ground and marine turtles at sea.


nce upon a time there was a little boy called Osvaldo. One day Osvaldo met two boys by the sea and asked them:

- “What are you looking for?”

- “We are looking for a turtle”, the two boys answered quickly. - “Don’t do that”, warned Osvaldo. “Didn’t you hear the Soba the other day warning all fishermen that it is forbidden to hunt turtles or destroy their nests?”, he asked. “You can be grounded for that!”, he warned again. The boys, however, ignored Osvaldo’s advice, and on finding out they were hunting turtles, the Soba called them and said: - “Children, the other day I warned all the people in this village that it was forbidden to kill turtles or steal the eggs they bury on the beach. Have you not heard?”, asked the Soba.


The children did not answer because they were very ashamed for having ignored the Soba’s warning, and afraid of getting punished.

The Soba went on saying:

- “These marine animals are under protection all over the world and we must also protect them here in Angola. The people in my village must set an example and help to save the turtles that come to our beaches to lay their eggs. And you, children, also have to contribute to this goal so that our village can be proud of you.” The children listened to the Soba’s wise words very carefully and promised they would, from that date on, help to protect the turtles instead of destroying them. They then looked for Osvaldo and told him: - “Thanks for your advice Osvaldo. We now understand you were right.” The three friends then decided to place some signs on the beach saying “DO NOT CATCH MARINE TURTLES”. This is how all the children in the Osvaldo’s village became marine turtle protectors, which made the Soba really proud, because now his village was an example to all citizens.


TURTLES SPAWNING IN ANGOLA BEACHES THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE I am the leatherback turtle but some friends call me giant turtle, because I am much bigger than all the other turtles. I can weigh up to 900 kg and be 2 m long! I am the rarest of all turtles and I lay eggs on the Angola beaches. I am black with white and pink spots and my carapace is different from those of the other turtles because it is smooth, triangular and has seven ridges. I feed exclusively of jellyfish!

THE OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE I am the olive ridley turtle, and in the beaches of Angola I am the most abundant. I am the smallest of all turtles! When I was born I was very little, my carapace was grey and sea urchins, snails, shrimps, etc., were my favourite food. But now that I am an adult I can reach 82 cm long and weigh up to 45 kg. My carapace is now a little bit more greenish and marine algae is my favourite food.



but that swim in our waters!

LOGGERHEAD TURTLE I am the loggerhead turtle. My carapace is brown and my tummy is yellow. My favourite food is fish, shrimp and other marine invertebrates.

THE GREEN TURTLE I am the green turtle and my carapace is oval shaped. When I was born my carapace was brown but now it is almost green. Algae is my favourite food.

THE HAWKSBILL TURTLE I am the hawksbill turtle and my carapace is brown with yellowish spots. I feed on sea urchins and other marine invertebrates I find at sea.


I do not throw rubbish onto the beaches or into the sea. I do not kill turtles, and I do not eat turtle meat. I do not steal eggs from turtle nests. I ask the fishermen who are my friends to be careful with the nets they leave at sea. I ask the tourists to moderate the speed of their motor boats. I tell drivers not to drive their vehicles on the beaches where turtles spawn. I do not buy bracelets or any other ornaments made of turtle carapaces. I do not go too near turtles laying eggs. I speak to my friends and explain them why I do not harm the turtles.

Turtles have existed for more than 200 million years, while the human being has existed for only the past 5 million years? There are also land turtles? These are called tortoises and instead of having fins to swim they have feet, with fingers and nails, to walk on the ground!

Turtles are born on the shore, but once they return to sea as juveniles, males never return to the shore, and females only come to the shore to spawn?

Turtles can swim for very long distances and sometimes even cross the oceans?

Some species can live for 150 years without stopping growing and can weigh up to 900 kg?

Turtles shed tears as if they were crying? The tears are used to excrete the excess salt of their bodies.

Of the 1000 juvenile turtles that are born, only one or two reach adulthood?

Juvenile turtles are attracted to light? For that reason, they can get lost when following the lights of the houses at the beaches.

Turtling - Children's Stories  
Turtling - Children's Stories