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.