Farah Vercoutter took over the management of Village des Tortues two years ago. The previous manager had exploited the park for his own benefit and it was close to collapse with work being neglected and many turtles dying. Poaching of endangered turtle species also took place. Since their arrival things have changed significantly; the park has been built back up and has good infrastructure, and the enclosures are clean just like the rest of the reserve.
There has been a lot of work done to re-introduce native, endangered turtle species in Senegal. However, Village des Tortues has run into some major problems, which are hindering progress in their work. A virus has infected many of the baby turtles and the park does not have the means to detect the virus early enough and thus stop it from spreading, meaning that all of the baby turtles might have to be killed in order not to spread the virus to the other turtles in the park. Furthermore, there is no security in place to stop farmers from letting their animals graze on the protected land (thus destroying it), as well as worker’s wages being very low despite the spike in customers since their arrival.
Farah and her husband Guillermo are strongly considering abandoning their project, as recently the only funds they were receiving from France were cut. They cannot continue their work with a sufficient impact if funds do not arrive soon. There is no plan in place for the management of the Village incase they leave, and I fear that things will return to the previous state if they do. There are few people in the world that work with the passion that both Farah and Guillermo have for their work.