The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust (LaMCoT) was set up as a response to the unsustainable harvesting of turtles and their eggs in the Lamu archipelago off northern Kenya. Since its inception in 1992 LaMCoT has maintained a focus protecting turtles whilst expanding its links with the local community to work for both conservation and local development. We now concentrate our efforts on a number of projects over on 4 areas;
Rubbish Collection & Management
100,000+ Hatchlings / 1,200+ Taggings
Kenyan waters are home to five threatened species of sea turtles - Green, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Loggerhead. The back bone of LaMCoT is turtle conservation, we involve local fishermen, community members, sponsors and supporters in our turtle and nest protection programs.
Through the by catch program local fishermen get incentives for turtles accidentally caught in their nets. Well wishers and sponsors adopt the turtles and donate to the Project. Turtles are then measured, treated for any health problems, before being tagged and released.
Ex-poachers patrol Shella and Takwa Beach to prevent the illegal poaching of eggs, they mark out new nest sites and monitor them until hatching. Guests and community members are invited to watch these hatchings, helping to protect baby turtles from the predators encountered on their way to the ocean. Nest sponsorship also sustains turtle protection efforts.
Through education programmes we increase the awareness of why turtles should be protected, this also encourages community members to inform us of any turtle exploitation or poaching activity
Between 2001 - 2021 we have tagged 1,224 turtles, and helped 102,251 hatchlings to the ocean. Over all, the nests have had a 89% success rate.
Education & Awareness
260 Students / 14 Schools / 3 Islands
To ensure our project is making a sustainable impact, it is vital to engage the community and the next generation. An important part of our project is our educational programmes in both schools and communities.
We hold community meetings and engagement forums with fishermen, women's groups, youth groups and other community members. Topics of these meetings include sustainable marine ecosystems and benefits of biodiversity, responsible resilient livelihoods and businesses, as well as effects of plastic waste.
ENVIRONMENTAL KINDNESS CLUB
Our school programme involves 14 schools, from 3 different islands in the archipelago, over the years we have had 260 students go through our environmental kindness club. We do regular weekly school visits, provide PACE lessons & PHE story cards through the TUSK trust programme. We also recently got tablets filled with environmental programmes which are integrated into our educational programme. As well as arranging field trips to our sites, litter clean ups on the beach and tree planting. Outside of the environmental clubs we also involve other schools through the archipelago in film screenings and educational workshops.
THE BEE PROJECT
The bees that pollinate the mangroves often make their hives from mud, if this is harvested their entire hive is destroyed. In order to provide a stable home for the bees we have set up hives on Manda Island. LaMCoT has been working with local communities to look after the hives and educate on the importance of bees, as well as showing how honey can be a sustainable, alternative source of income.
Community Marine Conservation
1 LMMA established / 1 LMMA in progress
After working hard to protect Turtles at the surface, we decided it was vital to continue that protection under the waves, through the creation of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA's)
MANDA TOTO CONSERVANCY
The Kiweni Reef between Pate and Manda Toto Islands is a long coral reef surrounded by seagrass meadows and a fringing mangrove forest, making it an ideal fish nursery and turtle habitat. Illegal fishing practices such as drag netting and aquarium fishing, as well as broken coral from boat anchors was really damaging this eco-system. To protect this important habitat a Locally Managed Marine Area was set up in 2008 by local stakeholders, encouraged by the Late Prof Shekuwe and the LaMCoT team, with the help of Fisheries and WWF. Since then mooring lines were placed for boats to anchor to and the area was made a no take zone. This has allowed the nursery to thrive and spill off for the surrounding communities.
KINYIKA CO-MANAGEMENT AREA
We are in the process of creating a new protected area south of Lamu in the open ocean. Kinyika island is a unique habitat, due to its location close to shore but also close to the first drop off. It is not only a vital reef and nursery for fish but attracts turtles, big schools of pelagics and dolphins, as well as being a breeding site for Sooty Turns. We hope protecting this area will combat the steady decrease in fish catches and habitat destruction.
CORAL SURVEY & ID DATA BASE
This year we are holding a coral survey with CORDIO of 4 different reefs in the archipelago to monitor their condition and mark off the area for the Kinyika LMMA. We also plan to start a data base of the dolphin pods that frequent the Lamu Bay, as well as any endangered or unique species spotted or caught. This data will be added to our data base, along with the extensive turtle and rainfall data that has been collected since 1997.
Mangroves provide a vital eco-system for many species and the people of Lamu have commercially harvested mangroves for centuries. This project came about through the need to restore the mangrove forests to maintain balance in this eco-system. Mangroves are replanted to ensure that we maintain this important habitat for marine species, to help combat the impact of climate change and to counter the increased demand for mangrove wood.
Rubbish Collection & Management
With the increase of rubbish floating in our ocean, especially plastic waste, the collection of this waste is an important aspect of keeping a pristine environment.
Within Shella Village and along the beach we manage daily rubbish collection and clean ups in partnership with the Shella Environment Group (SERG). We also participate & support local clean up groups in Lamu town.
We hold regular beach clean ups on Lamu and Manda with communities, schools, women and youth groups; this also ensures a clean and safe environment for turtle nesting and hatching. We collect about 800kg per day, totalling 288 tonnes annually.