Various conservation efforts have been ongoing
to protect marine life. Such efforts include tutle farming
as a conservation measure towards
the endangered tuttles.
Case Report: Priority Ecosystems
Kenya is rich in biological diversity. Around
25,000 species of animal and 7000 species of plants have so
far been recorded, along with atleast 2000 fungi and bacteria.
An enormous species of plants and animals inhabit the country’s
varied habitats, from its crowded and colorful coral reefs
to icy alpine moorlands. What is however, clear is that Kenya’s
biodiversity is under threats from a variety of sources include
natural and anthropogenic effects, and without concerted efforts
for research and focused conservation actions, we are likely
to loose unique species some of which are endemic to Kenya.
The extensive network of protected areas
gazetted as national parks and reserves offer a greater opportunity
for Kenya’s biodiversity conservation.
Endangered and threatened fishes
Singidia tilapia (Oreochromis esculentus);
Lake Chala tilapia (Oreochromis hunteri); Jipe tilapia (Oreochromis
jipe); Victoria tilapia (Oreochromis variabilis); Rainbow
sheller (Ptyochromis sp.); Lake Victoria deepwater catfish
(Xenoclarias eupogon); Montane dancing-jewel (Platycypha amboniensis);
Magadi tilapia (Alcolapia alcalicus); Giant wrasse (Cheilinus
undulatus); Victoria stonebasher (Marcusenius victoriae);
Kyoga flameback (Xystichromis nuchisquamulatus); Grey nurse
shark (Carcharias taurus); Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus); Whale
shark (Rhincodon typus); Porcupine ray (Urogymnus asperrimus);
Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus); Great white
shark (Carcharodon carcharias); Bowmouth guitarfish (Rhina
ancylostoma); Black-blotched stingray (Taeniura meyeni); Giant
guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis); Shorttail nurse shark
(Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum); Brindle bass (Epinephelus
lanceolatus); Blue notho (Nothobranchius patrizii); Boji plains
nothobranch (Nothobranchius bojiensis); Elongate nothobranch
(Nothobranchius elongatus); Ewaso nyiro labeo (Labeo percivali).
KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) |
farming (conservation measure towards the endangered
tuttles) | top
Turtle conservation at the Kenya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is managing a project at the
Kenyan Coast in which the local community is involved in efforts
to conserve the rare and endangered sea turtles. Measures
focus on the protection and management of foraging grounds.
Members of the community are encouraged to look out for nests
along the beaches and report any sightings to KWS rangers.
A person who does so is paid the equivalent of US$12.50,
and is encouraged to ensure the eggs are well guarded. A further
US$12.50 is paid out when the hatchlings emerge, and 50 cents
per egg hatched. Thus a person who finds and guards a nest
may receive upto US$32.50 per nest. This is a significant
sum given the average fisherman's monthly income of US$75.
The hatched turtles are then released into the sea by KWS
officials in the presence of visitors and local people.
KWS data indicates that sea turtles are widely distributed
along the Kenyan coastline within the 20-mile isobar areas
mainly associated with sea grasses and coral reefs. Turtles
are, however, highly migratory with nesting beaches usually
located a long way from the feeding grounds.
The first extensive aerial census of sea turtles in Kenya
was carried out in 1994 and revealed a population of just
1,000 to 2,000 reptiles. These include the olive ridley (Lepidochelys
olivacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the green
turtle (Chelonia mydas).
Large numbers of migratory sea turtles - the loggerhead (Caretta
caretta) and leatherback (Demochelys coriacea) which can reach
two metres in length and weigh 500 kilogrammes - also forage
in Kenyan waters, especially at Wasini, Takaungu, Ungwana
Bay, and the Kiunga Marine Reserve (the site of a marine conservation
project supported by the East African Regional Programme Office
of WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature).
Both resident and visiting turtles are increasingly under
threat. The harvesting of turtle eggs, demands for its meat
and oil, habitat destruction of nesting and foraging grounds
by human encroachment (coastal and tourism development), pollution
and beach erosion are all taking a heavy toll.
Another threat is posed by fishing trawlers and drift nets
which accidentally catch sea turtles and drown them in fishing
gear. Worldwide, an estimated 155,000 turtles die every year
in trawlers' shrimp nets.
Sea turtles are the earth's oldest living vertebrate animals.
They existed 150 million years ago, even before the dinosaur.
These giant reptiles have a life span of 50 to 100 years.
This makes them important environmental indicators of long-term
Sea turtles are protected by Kenyan Law, but its enforcement
has been so wanting, particularly in the protection of nesting
beaches, that their survival cannot be taken for granted.
When local environmentalists recognised the serious danger
to the reptile they acted to check and reverse the trend.
A Turtle Conservation Committee was formed to generate public
support. Members include representatives from the Kenya Wildlife
Service (KWS), the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK), local marine-related
institutions, private companies, hoteliers, and individual
the Turtle Conservation Committee plans to campaign for legislation
requiring fishing vessels to be fitted with Turtle Excluder
Devices (TEDS). These devices are specially made not to trap
turtles but will catch fish. They have proved to be 97 per
cent effective at releasing sea turtles ensnared by trawler
nets. The committee is also considering a turtle tagging programme
to monitor their movements.
Further, the conservation committee has just produced and
distributed teaching kit, for use by environmental educators.
Besides providing information on sea turtles, it encourages
activism such as writing letters to the Press and Government.
Other resources are videos, a slide show, an adopt-a-nest
programme, and books.
As George Wamukoya, KWS marine botanist and chairman of the
committee, says, "Once the children are fully aware of
the importance of turtle conservation, they will in turn educate
their parents. The parents will then be more willing to share
information with us on things such as the traditional uses
Local community participation in the exercise appears to
be the only sure way to control wanton destruction of the
turtles and their habitat.
The very nature of participatory activities implies that
they will operate at the local level. This will ensure that
the project process from indentification through design, implementation
and evaluation, involves individuals, local communities, the
private sector and government.
But this, will only succeed if direct economic benefits are
passed on as incentives to the communities involved. And mechanisms
are developed that enhance the intergration of local traditional
beliefs and practices that have protected the turtles for
centuries in the overall conservation and management of the
Equally important, is the establishment of mutually acceptable
and adaptable systems of dispute resolution in all participating
groups, and the setting up of a comprehensive national monitoring
system that would be linked to other regional initiatives.
Local scientists recognise that for better conservation of
turtles, it will be imperative to collaborate with their counterparts
in the eastern and southern African coastal range. Such a
collaboration should be geared towards further scientific
studies of turtles and the sensitisation of the public. So
far, only Kenya and South Africa have conducted studies on
turtles yet turtles are known to migrate throughout the region.
( Africa safari guide - safariweb) |