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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An uplifting trip to Msambweni

One of our closest and most active partners presently are the Kenyan Sea Turtle Conservation Committee (KESCOM); established in 1993 they were created to address the ever growing plight of the endangered species of turtles found in Kenya. Of these species, the Hawksbill is listed as 'Critically Endangered' on IUCN's Redlist of Endangered Species.

Reported declines in populations of sea turtles across the Western Indian Ocean can be explained predominantly by fishing activity and anthropogenic influences such as illegal poaching of eggs and meat. In conjunction with this, the inevitable growth of tourism and commercialisation has meant that hotels have started encroaching on turtle nesting sites on beaches; and their artificial light can cause increased mortality of hatchlings heading away from the sea. The ban on the international trade of sea turtles and the increase in more ecotourism, environmental education and enforcement has been a significantly positive step forward for turtle conservation.

-- Msambweni Turtle and Marine Conservation Group --

Reports from Turtle Conservation Groups (TCGs) indicate that between 85% - 89% of incidents leading to decline of turtle populations in Kenya are human-based (Nzuki, 2002, Okemwa, 2003). In response to this, KESCOM continues to conduct target scientific and social research to address specific gaps in information to improve awareness, education campaigns and promote community participation. The implemention of community-based activities and training as well as capacity building activities have been a focus of KESCOM with GVI for the past year with different TCGs.

Of these ever growing groups, the Msambweni Turtle and Marine Conservation Group (MTMCG), located about 2 hours south of Mombasa was visited by the GVI conservation interns a couple of weeks ago. The work done at this group is key to marine conservation along the stretch of coastline and is comprised of passionate and enthusiastic members from the local community. We gave informative presentations on other related marine life, but primarily focused on helping the committee raise awareness and promote ecotourism by means of educating visiting tourists to the area.

It was an extremely uplifting day, seeing such huge potential in targeting an area of sea turtle conservation that could potentially make a huge difference to turtle populations in Kenya!

Nzuki, S., 202 Turtle conservation Group (TCGs) in Kenya: A needs assessment survey report. KESCOM Technical Report Series No. 5.

Okemwa, G., 2003. Nesting and mortality patterns of sea turtle along the Kenyan coast (1997-2000). KESCOM Technical report No. 6.