This heartwarming story recently printed in the Daily Mail tells of a one-time poacher and eater of turtles and their eggs, who has now become such a devoted conservationist of baby turtles that he thinks of himself as their ‘mother’. Tabu Khanjare is one of 35 active members of the Conservation Officer network operated by our partner Sea Sense across six coastal districts of Tanzania. Since it began operating in 2001 the team of COs is estimated to have protected an amazing 5,000 marine turtle nests and guided a staggering 371,000 vulnerable hatchlings to the safety of the sea.
Working alongside staff from Sea Sense, the COs patrol all known nesting beaches to protect against predators and poachers and collect vital data on marine wildlife strandings, which helps in monitoring the threat level to endangered ocean giants from local fishing and hunting activities. Additionally and very importantly, by participating in village councils and exercising their respected influence in local communities, they provide a vital link between Sea Sense and the coastal population. Trained by their colleagues at Sea Sense, the COs act as ambassadors for conservation in their local villages and visit schools to educate local children about the vital importance of marine conservation.
So successful has this programme proved in Tanzania that it has led to the development of a marine turtle ecotourism initiative in the country’s three largest nesting sites. The population data painstakingly collected by COs over the last ten years has been a big factor in the central Tanzanian coast being declared a ‘Site of Regional Importance to Marine Turtles’. These significant achievements are testament to the boundless positive energy that results when local communities are educated and mobilised. Our partner Sea Sense needs our help to continue with these initiatives and Ocean Giants Trust is proud to be a supporter. If you would like to help to fund this education and conservation project you can donate here.