> Conservation

Conservation

Our conservation efforts in Uzi include marine turtle conservation, turtle eggs protection, environmental education, and the creation of options of environmentally-friendly sustainable income-generation for the local population.

Marine Turtle Conservation

For centuries, marine turtles have served as an important natural resource for humans, both nutritionally and economically. However, turtles have been over-exploited for trade, food (eggs, meat), leather, oil and ornamental objects. Misuse of marine turtles has resulted in severe declines of most populations around the world. For Hawksbill turtles, during the last 3 generations, the total population size has decreased by 80%. If this continues, they will be extinct soon. Turtles have been living on this planet for 230 Million years. Do we want to be responsible that they finally disappear?

Besides poaching (meat and eggs) the main threats to turtles in Tanzania are disturbance of nesting and foraging habitats, incidental net captures (gillnets and trawlers), limited awareness, land-based development and pollution. In 2011, we carried out a survey with the inhabitants of Uzi Island, which unfortunately revelead the Uzians basically kill every grown-up turtle they find. The reasons given were a) to eat them; b) to prevent that turtles eat fish that is meant for human consumption, or to prevent that sea turtles destroy fishing nets; c) to use the turtle shell as home decoration; or d) “for fun”.

We buy marine turtles from local fishermen who would otherwise slaughter the turtles to sell their meat. We keep the turtles in our lagoon for a limited time for educational purposes, particularly for local children and youth, and as a major environmental tourists attraction in Zanzibar to raise funds for our conservation program. Then we release them on the open sea between Unguja and Pemba, where chances are lower that they will get caught again. Hawksbill Turtles often get tagged to be able to identify them when they get caught again.

As it is impossible for us (and it should not be our goal) to keep ALL sea turtles of the Menai Bay area in our protected lagoon (24 hours watchmen), for long-term sustainable conservation, an overall change of behaviour of the local population is needed.

Turtle egg protection

Turtle eggs are being eaten by humans. We pay fishermen who find turtle nests on beaches to leave the eggs in the sand and to watch the site against poaching. We build a small fence around the nesting site to protect the eggs from animals such as dogs, lizards and mongooses. When the young turtles hatch, which usually from one underground egg chamber takes several days, with batches of 20-50 hatchlings emerging at a time, the fishermen report to us, and we give tourists who are in Zanzibar the chance to witness this unforgettable event.    

Environmental education

Our education efforts focus on Uzi kindergarten and Uzi primary school, where with the help of volunteers we communicate topics such as the relation between man and nature, the importance of conservation, sustainable and unsustainable fishing methods, pollution etc. On a kindergarten level the focus is rather on creating respect for and to appreciate animals and the environment, which also includes visits to our lagoon for local children with our biologist, Aliy Abdurahim. Our past volunteers have created some educational materials which are being used at the school and kindergarten.  

Further, we are trying to reach adults by campaigning in the village, particularly with the help of religious leaders.

We are just starting to establish partnerships with other marine turtle conservation projects throughout the world to exchange experiences and educational materials.

Income-generation for local people

As poverty is the main reason why Uzians destroy their nature, the creation of environmentally-friendly and sustainable income-generating activities should be an aspect of uttermost importance for anyone engaging into environmental conservation. The two fields of income-generation we try to establish on Uzi Island as self-sustaining micro-economic cycles, are ecotour ecotourism and cultural tourism (which is comprehensively presented on this website), and agriculture.

In agriculture we are currently getting started with fish-farming and organic flower farming. Due to the tourism industry in Zanzibar, there is a constant and growing demand of fresh fish, which cannot be supplied in a sustainable way by fishing from the ocean. A fish farm can assist to prevent over-fishing in the Menai Bay, while creating employment in Uzi. Likewise, decorative flowers are hard to get in Zanzibar, but in demand by the hospitality industry and local events alike.

Support our conservation projects in Uzi! 

As we are just in the processess of getting seriously started with ecotourism/cultural tourism and farming activities, we need your support to cover all running costs and initial investments. If you are in a position to support us, we appreciate your donation through Paypal (click the buttom on the top of this website). If you want to sponsor our project, we are more than happy to discuss possibilities to cooperate.

 

 

 

 

 

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