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.
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.