SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF FUNZI PROJECT

In 2009, KESCOM launched a project dubbed ‘integrating community based conservation with ecotourism on Funzi Island’. Supported by IUCN NL, the project sought to underke sea turtle conservation while improving the linkages between sea turtle conservation initiatives and poverty reduction measures. To achieve this, a crucial component was to develop alternative revenue and income bases through the community-based ecotourism ventures in order to develop and maintain economic benefits to the community at Funzi.

The Funzi Turtle Club acquired a boat and outboard engine and also participated in a series of trainings on ecotourism and handicraft production, making use of flip flops and plastic bags collected during the frequent beach clean-ups. In the course of the year, the club’s management capacity was greatly fostered through presentations on tour guiding, financial as well as enterprise management.

The boat ‘kasa ngozi’ is also used for in-water monitoring and patrols, an activity that has dealt a blow to would be sea turtle poachers around the island. Beach patrols were intensified as was habitat rehabilitation through mangrove replanting. Other regular activities included in-situ nest protection, tagging-and release, collection of vital sea turtle data as well as education and awareness campaigns.

Today, Funzi turtle club successfully runs an ecotourism enterprise incorporating an exciting homestay programme and also produces various interesting handicrafts for the local and international markets.

The message spread through the frequent education and awareness sessions seem to have hit home with visible community support for conservation activities in evidence. The island, now christened ‘the turtle island’ is a model on how conservation can gain immense community support while contributing to poverty alleviation strategies.

KESCOM continues to monitor the project and support the club in their activities. This year, thanks to support from Seacology, we hope to construct a marine centre in Funzi, to further streamline the club’s activities.

We sincerely thank IUCN NL for funding this project. Our hearty appreciation also goes to GVI, who have really done a lot in building the capacity Funzi turtle club, as well as greatly contributed to the homestay programme. Asante! KWS shimoni and Mombasa, we appreciate your continued support.

Asante sana to the Funzi community for your cooperation and for embracing this noble project. Our thanks also go to KESCOM staff who managed the project to successful completion and most importanly, to our trustees for the unwaivering support.

Integrating Sea turtle conservation with sports

The world cup fever is a welcome craze to billions of people worldwide. This once in a while event comes as a blessing to a wide cross-section of our communities, never mind the fact that some of our local national teams are going to join us on the couch and sharing our popcorn instead of dressing up in jerseys and kicking some ball like their peers! It is that time again when, if you loathe football, you should then descend into a remote bunker that you should have built earlier. This season, however, I doubt whether the sea turtles will be happy with the hordes of football fans who will undoubtedly find their way into South African beaches. I know for a fact that the noise too will be unwelcome because I am sure South Africa will be loud over the next couple of weeks.

On the bright side, this soccer craze has its good tidings. In many places along the coast, hundreds of young people are engaged in this much-loved sport in the name of sea turtle conservation. From Funzi to Kipini, the Mexican wave is rapidly catching on. Take the Turtle F.C. for instance. Supported and sponsored by the Tana Friends of the Marine Environment (TAFMEN), the team is a force to reckon with in the local tournaments. The wannabe Ronaldos, Drogbas and Marigas have a passion not only for kicking around leather, but also keeping the sea turtles alive.

That is why each match is a sea turtle education and awareness opportunity for them, using the pre-match moments to urge the community to conserve the sea turtles and their habitats. Sticking out in the stands, one cannot fail to notice ‘Save the sea turtle’ messages interspersed with team slogans.

Members of TAFMEN are a permanent feature in the cheering stands, taking a deserved breather from patrolling and monitoring their beaches to watch these truly talented young men take to the field. Practice sessions are taken seriously, with the coach imparting both tactical and life skills to the team. To John Kali, a member of TAFMEN and stand-in coach, the soccer pitch is one place where the youth can sit still and listen keenly. Shaibu Mohammed can’t agree more, and he relishes in the very idea of scouting for sponsors and well-wishers to support this young and determined club. He looks forward to the day, which he reckons is coming soon, when other seashore communities shall borrow a leaf from Kipini. Soon, he says, the district cup finals may very well be a match between Green turtle F.C. and Hawkbill F.C., better still, third place could be the new kids on the block, Leatherback United.

At the end of each game, the message left ringing in the spectators’ ears is clear, Turtle F.C. is a good side…………and there really is a need to conserve the endangered sea turtles.
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Turtle FC members during practice

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Center: Team captain, John Kali

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Infront: TAFMEN project coordinator, Shaibu Mohamed

Douglas

KESCOM activities

KESCOM has over the years in collaboration with other stakeholders been active in the conservation and management of sea turtles in Kenya. Rigorous targeted education and awareness campaigns at different societal levels have ensured that the community is more aware of this precious resource and the need to sustainably use and/or conserve it. And with Turtle Conservation groups on the ground that are widely spread along the Kenyan Coast doing regular turtle monitoring patrols and beach clean ups, turtle and egg poaching cases have reduced. Groups that reside near mangrove ecosystems, which harbor quite a diverse number of birds and benthic organisms, are more active in restoration of these forests in degraded areas. Further capacity building trainings on leadership, awareness and advocacy skills on TCGs coupled by exchange visits facilitated by KESCOM has enabled improvement of the abilities of the groups to manage conservation programs. KESCOM has also helped facilitate implementation of donor-funded pilot ecotourism project with Funzi Turtle Club located in Funzi Island in a bid to improve the livelihoods of the community in the area. Some groups like Bureni Turtle Watch have initiated self-reliance projects such as selling of t-shirts and beaded keys rings to support their turtle conservation programs (more information at www.vipingovillagefund.org). Other income generation activities initiated by groups are making of organic soap and handicrafts from flip-flops by Funzi Turtle Club; weaving of mats by Ozi friends of conservation; and crab culture, snake farming & tour guided boat trips at Mida creek by Mida Creek Conservation Group.

Protect our nesting beaches

“Protecting more nesting beaches is not a politically or socially simple endeavor, but it is the only way to avoid the risk of putting all turtle eggs in a very few baskets.” Several community based turtle conservation groups TCGs) under the umbrella of KESCOM have adopted the nest protection program in an endeavor to protect the nesting beaches. Through monitoring and patrol of nesting beaches poaching of eggs has been greatly reduced in Kenya and consequently hatchling releases are on the increase. Further with scheduled monthly beach clean ups, the nesting beaches in Kenya have been made clean and safe for nesting turtles to lay their eggs. These activities play a very important role in the worldwide efforts of contributing towards population increase of these endangered creatures.

A Green turtle hatchling

A turtle hatchling heading to the sea after emerging from a nest at Bureni beach, North of the Kenyan coast

14 turtle conservation groups benefit from KESCOM’s capacity building program

It is now recognized that the success of resource conservation initiatives requires the support of the resource users. However capacity building of the very resource users is of essence if the initiatives are to succeed. In the months of February and March, 2010 and with the financial support of Community Development Trust Fund, 14 TCGs under the umbrella of KESCOM were trained on sea turtle monitoring and patrols. These were Funzi Turtle Club, Bodo TCG, Msambweni Turtle & Marine Conservation Group, Diani TCG, Jimbo Environment Group, Tiwi Group, Takaungu TCG, Roka TCG, Mayungu TCG, Dabaso TCG, Bureni turtle Watch, Ozi friends of conservation, Tana friends of marine environment, Delta friends of Conservation all widely distributed along the Kenyan coast. It is to the expectations of the facilitators that beach patrol and monitoring, identification and reporting of nesting activity/nest translocations, nest protection and hatchlings programs, mortality reports, tagging and tag recovery activities shall improve.

Bodo training

Participants of the Bodo training

Crush survives net entanglement

Crush-a turtle

This turtle named ‘crush’ was rescued from a fisherman net at Funzi Bay, in Funzi Island south of the Kenyan coast. The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) locally known as Kawa wa Kawaida was later tagged and released into the sea by a members of a local turtle community conservation group, Funzi Turtle Club. Conservation efforts by the club members have seen quite a number of sea turtles rescued from fishermen nets over the years.

KESCOM ANNUAL REPORT, 2009

Hi all,    Follow the link below of the KESCOM annual report to get informed about the 2009 KESCOM’s achievemets.  annual-report-2009.pdf                                                                                                                                                                     

SEASONAL GREETINGS

A BEACH CLEAN UP AT MWAEMBE BEACH, MSAMBWENI

Yesterday I got a chance to participate in a beach clean-up exercise that was organized by Msambweni Turtle and Marine Conservation Group. This happened at Mwaembe beach one of the major nesting site for sea turtles in the area. Infact during this particular three kilometers beach clean up am informed that there are three nests that are due for hatching in December. The young, old, men and women, all dedicated members were here to volunteer in making the beach environment clean and conducive for the turtles. The oldest member of the group is Mzee Salim. He’s seventy-six year old and his old age does not deter him from joining the rest of the members in participating in turtle conservation activities. He manages to complete the two-hour exercise together with the rest of us. We collected approximately ten kilograms of litter ranging form flip-flops, bottles, sacks, ropes, paper bags and so on. It is however unfortunate that I did not get a chance to be a part of the sorting process where the litter is sorted out into different categories because I ran out of time and had to rush back to Mombasa. However the members promised me that I would get the data once they meet and did the sorting. They hope to recycle it into useful items in the near future. I also gave them some of the children storybooks that were recently donated to KESCOM by the Save Our Seas Foundation. The group will use these books to create awareness especially to school children.I left the place at around six in the evening and I sure had a wonderful time. I hope to go back soon, this time to witness the hatchling release of the three nests.  Mzee Salim.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Rose 

Destructive fishing practices on Funzi Bay

The remains of a large female green turtle was found slaughtered on the south shore of Funzi Island on Tuesday 17th of October. The meat had been removed, probably at sea, and the cadaver was dumped to be taken taken to shore by the waves. This was the first time we encountered this type of incident, which is not very common nowadays. All local fishermen here on Funzi Island are aware that poaching sea turtles is both illegal and immoral.

This incident coincides disturbingly with the presence of few large motorboats who are using ring nets just off shore on Funzi Bay. This non-selective fishing method is extremely harmful to the marine ecosystem. Recently, it also became illegal in Kenya. A ring net will catch everything within its width, with no consideration to what species are harvested and to the size of the individuals caught. When used around coral reefs, ring nets are known to cause massive destruction.

The local people in Funzi are powerlessly watching this destruction occurring on daily basis in their own fishing waters. The unwelcome fishermen operate in large groups, with up to 30 roughnecked men on each boat. It is said that each boat can catch up to 5 tonnes of fish a day. The crew often originates from other areas, even from as far as Tanzania. Their understanding of the conditions in the marine ecosystem here is very limited, and their incentive to brutally exploit the fish here is clear – each fishermen earns about 7000 Kenyan shillings a day (roughly 70€). At least three of these vessels have been exploiting the water around Funzi during the last month. Trying to chase away such a fishing boat from the area might en up in a violent conflict.

Fish in Funzi is an important resource. It is an absolutely vital protein source for the islands’ inhabitants and provides a well-needed income for the fishermen. According to experienced fishermen, the landings of fish have been rapidly declining during the last years. The activities witnessed around here will certainly have a negative impact on fisheries and are endangering both the ecosystem and the people relying on it. This, in turn, will certainly make life even more difficult for sea turtles. In addition to habitat destruction and the higher risk of getting caught in nets, there is an overhanging risk that even local fishermen will go back to poaching turtles in the absence of fish. Since this fishing occurs on such a large scale, it is up to the local authorities to take action. The local fishermen can not protect the environment by themselves.