Tag Archives: ecotourism

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.

Good tidings in Funzi with the advent of the tourism high season

Apologies for being offline for a couple of weeks. We are glad to report that we are back again. The high tourism season is here again and we are glad to report that Funzi Island has not been left behind. Just last week, about 200 tourists visited the island! The sleepy island is now coming to life.

 I spent a weekend with Sergei and Nick, volunteers from GVI who so generously visited the IUCN funded ecotourism project to learn about what the club is doing. Their two days on the island were packed with activities. We visited turtle nesting beaches, did the village walk, enjoyed local food, met club members and jioned in the handicraft production among others.

The lowpoint of the trip was seeing the indigenous forest destruction that is supposedly to enable construction of cottages. Whatever it is, the bulldozing is massive and a bit senseless. We kept asking ourselves what we can do to save the island. Some construction has begun, and most of it goes on right next to the beaches. As we walked through the remnants of a once dense forest, the cry of the colobus monkeys brought us to the stark reality that some of this wonderful creatures may not have a home in the next few months! With all this going on, it chills to imagine what Funzi will be like in ten years if thess developments are left to continue unchecked and unhindered.

Taking part in the club activities was as usual, so exciting. The handicraft training that the members received in April is bearing fruit – as seen through the diversity of the products they are able to creatively produce. The project is so far on course, the members are really optimistic that with the increased visitor numbers, they will be able to sell more and more of their products.

This month, there are more patrol trips around the beaches, fourse major beach clean-up exercises, more camping activities and a mangrove planting day. The club has a busy month – but its all in the name of saving the magnificent sea turtles.

SPICING UP TOURISM ON FUNZI ISLAND

tagging-a-turtle.JPGtourists watch as a turtle is tagged

 

Tagging and release of turtles, as well as beach clean-ups and mangrove rehabilitation are quickly becoming activities of choice for tourists visiting Funzi Island. True to the ecotourism theme driving the IUCN-sponsored Funzi project, visitors are increasingly taking time off to participate in conservation activities planned and carried out by the Funzi Turtle Club.

Every morning, the members of the club routinely carry out beach patrols and clean-ups as they monitor turtle nests and tend to mangrove plantations. Every so often, they will be accompanied by happy-go, big-hearted and adventurous tourists who turn a trip to the island into a hands-on learning experience.

beach-cleanups.JPG  

Frances, an American university student visiting Funzi for the first time, was lost for words “The biology of sea turtles is just fascinating. These creatures are magnificent” said the ecotourism student who, apart from using the visit as a fieldwork trip for her research work, took part in various activities in the village. “I’m seeing more reason why we should do everything in our powers to ensure that they are saved from extinction”.

 

Alice and Hattie from Manchester, England took some time off their studies to volunteer at a local school in Mombasa. They had read about the turtle conservation project in Funzi, so when a friend came up with the idea to visit the island, they literary jumped at the opportunity. Their four-day stay was, in their words ‘a wonderful adventure’. On the second day of their stay, they got the enviable chance to help tag and release a turtle rescued from a fisherman’s net. “This is so cool!” exclaimed Hattie as she posed for pictures with the juvenile turtle. “My parents are not going to believe this!” They later released the turtle, which they nicknamed ‘crush’ and watched it as it swam into the calm evening waters. To wind up their visit, they watched as club members demonstrated the process of making various ‘flip flop handicrafts’, which they so thankfully carried home as souvenirs.

 

For those who wish to mingle with raw nature and enjoy (and conserve) the simple pleasures of an unspoilt environment, Funzi has become the new exotic destination.

Integrating sea turtle conservation with ecotourism

Funzi Turtle Club members receive ownership documents of a boat donated by IUCN Netherlands as part of a project ‘Integrating sea turtle conservation with ecotourism’. The boat will be used for sea patrols. The turtle conservation club also carries out other activities such as habitat rehabilitation, beach clean-ups, turtle tagging and release, hatchling release program, in-situ nest protection as well as production of handicrafts and souvenirs out of recycled material. This club is one of the 18 community Turtle Conservation Groups (TCGs) that the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Community (KESCOM) currently works with.