Founded in 2000, the National Marine Park of João Vieira Poilão (PNMJVP) is located in the South-East of the Bijagos archipelago in Guinea Bissau, on an area of 49,500 ha including a maritime zone over 47,943 ha. It is composed of four main islets (João Vieira, Cavalos, Meio and Poilão) and three islets (Baixo de Muzanty). It’s about a critical site for the reproduction of sea turtles, and green turtles in particular, for which it represents the most important egg-laying site all over the west frontage of the Atlantic Ocean. The PNMJVP Park is one of the key areas of the Biosphere Reserve of the Bijagos archipelago (RBABB) and was declared Gift to the Earth in 2001.
Objectives of the park’s creation
Conserving the biodiversity, and balanced and functional ecosystems; constituting a well-preserved hub that facilitate the restocking of adjoining areas with endangered or heavily exploited species; contributing to the preservation of biodiversity worldwide, notably sea turtles; creating conditions conducive for the sustainable development of the insular region hosting the park; supporting State institutions in the management of Oceans and natural environments in general.
Representative habitats and ecosystems
The PNMJVP Park is composed of subhumid forests dominated by palm trees (Elaeis guineensis), mangroves, sandbanks and beaches that represent some exceptional egg-laying sites for sea turtles.
The Park hosts three species of sea turtles: the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and the Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). The Park also hosts sea mammals: two species of dolphins – the humpback dolphin (Sousateuzsii) and the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates). The Park’s fish fauna is very rich and diversified. The most common fish species in the park are the jack mackerel (Caranx sp.), the snappers (Lutjanus sp.) and the sharks. A big population of piscivorous fish flock to the park to reproduce, notaly the royal tern (Sterna maxima), the Caspian tern (Sterna Caspia), and the black-bellied tern (Chlidonias niger). The Park hosts the African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), a charismatic species that is rare and endangered within the sub region.
Cultural values and economic activities
The Park hosts a big number of sacred sites for the indigenous populations, notably the sacred Poilao Island that is also the most important egg-laying site for green sea turtles on the Atlantic coast. The populations are mainly active in shifting agriculture, the exploitation of palm trees and fishing.