A non-governmental organisation in Lamu has launched massive campaigns focusing entirely on protecting critically endangered sea turtles in the region.
The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust (LaMCoT), a local NGO, has now embarked on developing a holistic ecosystem based approach aimed at conserving and managing the sea turtle population across the Lamu archipelago for the benefit of the current and future generation.
Speaking to the Nation in Lamu on Tuesday, LaMCoT Coordinator Atwa Salim reiterated that they are already undertaking different measures including identifying, capturing, tagging and releasing the endangered sea turtles, particularly the green turtles and the hawksbills, in a move aimed at ensuring they are fully protected.
According to Mr Salim, such activities have already led to improvement of the sea turtle population.
The trust has for more than 20 years been involved in various activities aimed at supporting the marine ecosystems.
“We’ve been undertaking project activities in line with our four thematic programming areas which include turtle protection, provision of education and awareness, alternative eco-friendly and sustainable livelihoods and waste collection and management. Through our activities, we’ve managed to rescue turtles caught by mistake by fishermen through tagging and releasing them to the ocean,” said Mr Salim.
In its efforts of protecting the endangered sea turtles, the Lamu trust has also been organising workshops and trainings to create awareness among the locals on the importance of conservation and maintenance of a clean environment.
“One of the efforts by LaMCoT is the Kiweni Coral, 471 acres of coral assemblages under protection as turtle foraging zone and spill over where the local dhow operators have been taking guests for snorkelling which earns them income as well as helps in conservation. Also, students from different schools under our education programme have been going for excursions at Kiweni Conservancy and other islands to learn about marines and the environment. All these activities have shown a great impact towards the efforts to protect the green turtles as well as hawksbill turtle,” said Mr Salim.
Ms Carol Korschen, who is the organisation’s founder, said they have also been providing local fishermen with incentives to discourage them from poaching and at the same time encouraging them to help in the preservation and protection of sea turtles.
“We adopt turtles caught by fishermen by paying Sh2,500 to the individual fisherman who brings the turtle for adoption and we tag it and release it. Since 1997 to date, our organisation has been able to rescue, tag and release around 1,177 sea turtles. Also, in the efforts of protecting the turtles, sick turtles have been taken to Watamu for treatment,” said Ms Korschen.
Mr Famau Shukry, the organisation’s field officer, said they are also undertaking beach patrols and monitoring of turtles including identification and protection of turtle nests, hatching and adoption of the animals.
“Lamu Marine Conservation Trust has been protecting nests along the Shela beach, Manda beach and all the way to Takwa. We move the nests to secured places to ensure successful hatching and also protect the nest from poachers and predators including hyenas. We have wardens who do beach patrols every day to identify any nest laid,” said Mr Shukry.
Statistics from the NGO, and which the Nation has seen, indicate that there have been a total of 96,255 successful hatchlings with another 11,170 being unsuccessful.
“We provide incentives to the wardens for each nest they report. We also allow sponsorship of the nests,” added Mr Shukry.
The organisation has also been undertaking beach clean ups for almost four times a year.
Together with the local community and students from local schools who are part of the marine and environment clubs, LaMCoT has also taken part in clean-up to removes plastics which are hazardous to the sea turtles and the environment.