Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza has unveiled the sea turtle conservation protocol in Mombasa.
In a move to mobilise the community to conserve sea turtles, the CS also organised a beach clean-up exercise along the shores of the Indian Ocean.
The cleanup was aimed at creating awareness on ocean pollution and getting rid of litter dropped by members of the public, which threatens the life of the marine ecosystems.
Malonza said sea turtles have been adversely affected by plastic litter dropped in the ocean, which makes them get infected by diseases such as cancer after consuming such waste.
“The sea turtle are our flagship species and play a critical, ecological and cultural role as well as tourism attraction. Five of the seven species that occur in our country are the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, olive ridley turtle and the leatherback turtle which are categorised as endangered,” said Malonza.
She added that several interventions have been put in place to ensure their conservation which includes the gazettement of identified turtle nesting sites as conservation areas of special importance and the review and reformulation of a national sea turtle recovery action plan.
The CS noted that the ministry will also work in collaboration with the concerned institutions and embrace community engagement, stakeholder involvement, conservation, research and training in addressing pressures on marine ecosystems and species.
“The development of Important Marine Turtle Areas (IMTAs) is an idea that the country needs to explore, as it will help to assure that the areas of greatest importance for preventing sea turtle extinction are included in these national conservation initiatives,” said Malonza.
Coastal Kenya Programme Manager under World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Asma Awadh, stated that the organisation has been working on sea turtle conservation for nearly 26 years and added that they have gathered a lot of experience on grounds of the matter.
Awadh stated that they had trained many organisations over the years on the procedures and processes of conserving sea turtles.
“We collaborated with Kenya Wildlife Service and documented a protocol that can be used all over the country by any organization that conserves turtles,” said Awadh.
She noted that sea turtles face many human related challenges including poaching and encroaching on the space by the shores which hinder them from nesting and results in the decrease of their population.
Awadh addressed the outbreak the sea turtles have been facing elaborating that it is a virus that is treatable and not cancer as it had been assumed for a long time.
She said that the virus (hydro-papilloma) reduces their ability to move as it forms tumors on their carapace leading to their death.
Awadh applauded both local and international tourists and beach plot investors noting that they were becoming more environmentally aware and sensitive.
By Chari Suche and Fatuma Said