Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Intern Excursion to Funzi Island


My name is Nic, a conservation student from South Africa. I have joined GVI as a volunteer on their Conservation Internship in Kenya to gain experience in marine biology.

As part of my internship I am undertaking a personal project on the socio-economic impact and tourism strategies of Funzi Island, involving a base line review of their turtle conservation efforts. This includes looking at; areas that require development for direct and indirect benefits of the community-based Turtle Conservation Group (TCG) and local turtle populations; identify possible areas of conflict with local laws and legislation in place to protect turtles; research alternative conservation strategies; identify areas in which GVI could support the TCG; identify ways to improve the sustainability of eco-tourism; increasing local awareness of turtle conservation issues; identify environmental impacts of current tourism and mitigation.

With Sergi, GVI's marine research field staff, I made my way to Funzi for the weekend, to meet Douglas who works with GVI's partner, Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (KESCOM) and Ali Vuyaa, chairman of the Funzi Island Turtle Club. We arrived at Bodo village where Funzi Turtle Club met us and took us across in their boat to the island. Over the course of the weekend we discussed conservation strategies already in place and the involvement of the local community. We also took a walk through the forest where exotic fruits were tasted and monkeys swung freely in the canopy above. A turtle nesting site was visited at an excluded beach cove, we were given a village tour, lunched at the local restaurant, were shown the local village Kaya shrines, and were shown the local handicrafts.

A down side to this trip was to witness the destruction by land developers to the forest and mangroves on the island, which the local community are trying to combat through their TCG and KESCOM.

The island of Funzi is a marvel, where the sights and the people create a magical ambiance which should be explored and protected. I personally am looking forward to future visits and working alongside the TCG and local community to develop a role for GVI in supporting their eco-tourism objectives. Funzi Island must remain a majestic, tranquil, beautiful island for the people, the turtles and other wildlife that depend on the ecosystem here, and I am happy to part of that positive change.