30 years of LaMCoT
This year we are celebrating 30 years since the idea that was to grow into LaMCoT first began. Here are a few milestone we have achieved over the past 3 decades.
Our founder Carol Korschen noticed the decline in turtles around the Lamu Archipelago and decided to try and do something about it. Turtles and their eggs have long been a delicacy on many tropical coastal settlements. It was a big project to undertake and one that couldn't be rushed into. Carol decided to start with a nest. Shella beach is the closest nesting beach to the village and therefore the easiest to access, by relocating the nest it could be monitored and protected. However each egg must sit the same way as it was laid and the depth of the egg in the nest determines its sex. So relocating had to be very precise. Thankfully it was a success and more nests followed. To create awareness in the next generation Carol even used to hold nature documentary screenings for Shella kids in her home.
With time, as the project grew relocating nests was not the most efficient method and Carol also needed an extra hand running the project. There were a few volunteers who came through Lamu and helped with the project and it was funded through donations from guests, who would adopt nests and turtles.
The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust was initiated as a Community Based Organisation (CBO) working on a marine turtle protection project through the Lamu archipelago. The next step was to educate and, creating awareness in the community that turtles are endangered. Encouraging fishermen to bring turtles accidentally caught in their fishing nets to her to be monitored and released.
Atwaa joined Carol in her mission to protect turtles. His work has been instrumental in bringing LaMCoT to where it is today, not only did he work hard on the turtle nesting and tagging programme but he shone when it came to changing the communities attitude to turtles and the need for protection. Hugh Defranti who visited Lamu often and was a big supporter of the project, introduced Carol to Charlie Mayhew, the co-founder of Tusk Trust. This was the year they became our main sponsor, which they still are and have shown us great support in all our projects over the years. Thanks to their help we managed to introduced the tagging programme. Since then over 1,200 turtles have been tagged and released, over 102,000 hatchlings have made it to the ocean and we have employed 3 ex-poachers to patrol nesting beaches and monitor nests.
Saw the beginning of the environmental kindness clubs, the first was at Shella primary school. This club teaches students about protecting the environment, the underwater world, mangrove restoration, tree planting, waste management and utilizes Tusks PACE programme (Pan African Community Educatiion). Quite a few of the Environmental kindness club members have now been ventured into environmental careers. There are now 13 Schools in environmental kindness club
and Brighter Girls even has an organic farm through LaMCoT that supports a healthy lunch programme. One of the children in the club, had a father who caught and sold turtle for a living, this child convinced his father to change his ways and that fisherman still brings us turtles to tag. In 2002 LaMCoT also planted more than 200 trees at the Manda Airport as well as planting trees at the Shella dispensary and various schools in education programme. LaMCoT has also been partnering with projects involved with mangroves restoration, most of the major mangrove planting was in the Kililana Area near the Lamu Port.
The local community, LaMCoT and fisheries came together to set up a Locally Managed Marine area, the Kiweni Conservancy. This area lies between Pate and Manda Toto Islands, it is a long coral reef surrounded by seagrass meadows and a fringing mangrove forest, making it an ideal fish nursery and an important turtle habitat. The same year, together with the Shella Environmental Residents Group (SERG) a waste collection programme was set up in Shela village which has made Shela the cleanest village in Lamu. This initiative includes regular beach clean ups on the nesting beaches of Shela, Kipungani and Manda help to provide clean beaches free from plastic for the turtles to come and lay. Every year more than 200 tonnes are collected, sorted and taken for recycling, incinerating or composting.
Famau joined the team. When he learnt that turtles are endangered, Famau took lead on the protection of sea turtle nests monitoring along the beaches of Manda and Takwa at night and during the day, working with Atwaa on community sensitisation against sea turtle fishing. Famau is our first responser when ever a turtle is in need. He does the tagging and releasing, as well as organising the excursions to nesting sites and educational trips.
A film was made show casing the work of LaMCoT and giving an over view of ocean traditions in the Lamu Archipelago.
Fatma joined the team, she was a member of the one of the environmental kindness clubs at Brighter Girls Secondary School, so it is only fitting that she started helping with educational programme. She now works as admin in LaMCoT but gives advice and ideas on the school program
This year our team has grown once again, as Carol has stepped back into an advisory role, her daughter Elke and Elke's husband, Jahawi have joined the LaMCoT Team. As well as the addition of a passionate marine biologist, Teresa, who is project managing our newest proposed co-managed marine area around the small island of Kinyika. Along with CORDIO we held a coral reef survey to monitor our current locally managed marine area as well as the proposed Kinyika CMA. We also hosted the first Bahari Yetu festival in partnership with East African Ocean Explorers which was attended by over 150 kids from the archipelago and 10 organisations and projects focusing on our environment. We also got our Kasa boat, so now we can arrange more fun excursions with our environmental kindness clubs.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach this point, especially to our main sponsors Peponi Hotel, Tusk Trust and Leopardess Foundation. We are looking forward to another 30 years of doing our best to making a difference!