Why is Maio threatened?
Plants and animals on oceanic islands in general are facing increased pressure from development. Much of this development is spurred by the expectation that tourism will bring prosperity to local people. Tourism, especially if not planned carefully, can be detrimental for local biodiversity.
Maio does not fare differently. In recent years, the building of accommodation for tourists by large companies has increased in Maio, often against the will of the local people, who are very proud of the quietness of their island and who worry that an increase in tourism will lead to an increase in violence, like on other Cape Verdean islands (Santiago, Sal or Boa Vista for example). The increase of tourism could also lead to the destruction of habitats that are fragile and rich in biodiversity. It will certainly increase the frequentation of the beaches and other natural environments by tourists. This increase in tourism is a double-edged sword: uncontrolled mass tourism and development would be catastrophic for the island’s biodiversity; controlled tourism (through trails in the Salina for example – for more information please see “What We Do”) could become a precious source of revenue for the island and the Foundation.
Another threat to biodiversity in Maio directly concerns the common loggerhead turtle. These animals come to the beaches of Maio to lay their eggs. The accidental destruction of nests and eggs by passersby, as well as the intentional collecting of eggs for food, constitute major threats for this species.
Moreover, from what local people noticed over the years, there is a great risk of overfishing in the waters of Maio. The lack of population surveys in the area makes it difficult to evaluate the situation. It is urgent to conduct such research before the populations become so depleted that recovery becomes impossible.
Finally, global processes such as desertification and global warming are likely to influence biodiversity in Maio too, although these effects have not been documented so far.