Kenya tries to balance turtles and tourism
Kenya tries to balance turtles and tourism In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 photo, local ocean marine scouts who are trained on sea conservation by Local Ocean Trust, carry a rehabilitated turtle from their Watamu centre on the Kenyan coast to release back into the Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/ Ilya Gridneff)
Kenya tries to balance turtles and tourism
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A turtle drags itself along a white sandy beach. It splashes through the gentle warm Indian Ocean and then vanishes with a plop.  It had just become one of 13,750 turtle success stories on a stretch of Kenyan coastline that is under pressure from developers.
 
Kenya is striving to strike a balance. The country is developing its 330 miles of coastline for a billion-dollar tourism industry that employs a half-million people. At the same time, it is preserving the environment that attracts those visitors. As the East African nation does so, some experts say that turtles are key. That is because they are so picky when it comes to laying eggs. If the right environment is maintained for them, then things are going well.
 
Kenya's record is mixed in protecting endangered turtles. But now it is going pretty well, a top wildlife official says.
 
One of several sore spots for conservationists and locals - and not least of all, the turtles - is a hotel of former Renault F1 tycoon Flavio Briatore.
 
The dispute centers around Briatore's Billionaire Resort on Malindi beach and its 100-meter concrete seawall to protect the property and guests from the elements.
 
Malindi resident David Kirk said the resort has been an "absolute environmental disaster."  He said forests full of nesting birds were destroyed and soil was eroded. That is because the seawall had stopped turtles from coming ashore to lay eggs.
 
Resort general manager Stephanie Ravessoud said the seawall's construction followed all government requirements. She said the seawall respects the environment.
 
"Erosion has been there for decades. Everybody knows that sand in our area was being washed away long before the building of our wall," she said.
 
Marine biologist Casper Van de Geer said turtles need quiet, sandy beaches to lay eggs. Large tourist resorts or housing developments disturb that process.
 
"Light and noise scare them off," he said. "They lay their eggs above the high water mark. The nest has to be warm and above the water, so erosion affects that."
 
Local Ocean Trust runs a rehabilitation center in Watamu that Van de Geer manages. Sick or injured turtles are nursed back to health. The group also compensates fishermen for turtles caught in their nets or found sick or injured.
 
"A big adult turtle can fetch up to $500 on the black market," Van de Geer said. "Fishermen earn about $100 a month, in a good month. So one turtle is almost half a year of work.
 
"Turtle conservation is crucial because it also protects the habitat for thousands of other species, including sharks, dolphins and whales," Van de Geer said. "By protecting turtles, you are protecting beaches, mangroves, open ocean, reefs and sea grass, which is virtually every ecosystem in the tropical ocean."
 
Dr. Richard Leakey is the chairman of the governmental Kenya Wildlife Service. He said that while tourism and humans have invariably affected the environment, locally run projects on Kenya's coast have sustained endangered turtle population over the past decade.
 
"The situation these days is much better," Leakey said. "We still have problems with turtles getting stuck in trawler nets. But we've seen very positive signs regarding turtle numbers."
 
The Local Ocean Trust has rescued and sent turtles back to the ocean 13,750 times over the past 20 years of working in Watamu, according to Van de Geer. A turtle tagged in Watamu was later found in the Chagos archipelago 2,300 miles away, he said.
 
"From Mozambique, to Australia, to India and Thailand, we all have a stake in this," he said. "The beach here has an impact on the entire ocean, that's the weird and amazing thing about turtles."
 
Of species found in Kenya, the Hawksbill turtle is critically endangered and the Green turtle is endangered while the Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead turtles are vulnerable to becoming extinct, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
 
"Despite our efforts, man remains the turtle's most serious enemy," Van de Geer said.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/kenya-tries-balance-turtles-and-tourism/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it in Kenya's best interest to balance turtles and tourism?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • aaronp.-tay
    3/17/2016 - 11:52 p.m.

    Never really thought about how important turtles are but that guy is right about protecting them they need it.

  • dianner-2-bar
    3/18/2016 - 12:07 a.m.

    Kenya's best interest to balance turtles and tourism because as the article said " Loggerhead turtles are vulnerable to becoming extinct" and Kenya want people to come. I thought this article was very sad because it said "The conservation is crucial because it also protects the habitat for thousands of other species, including sharks, dolphins and whales," but at the same time fishers are hurting these animals.

  • angelad-6-bar
    3/18/2016 - 10:28 a.m.

    Its in Kenya's best interest to balance turtles and tourism because protecting turtles mean protecting the habitat for thousands of other animals, "By protecting turtles, you are protecting beaches, mangroves, open ocean, reefs and sea grass, which is virtually every ecosystem in the tropical ocean." (paragraph 13) But Kenya also needs to protect these animals because the tourism industry is because of Kenya's exotic and rare animals. I fond this article interesting because this is the first I have ever heard of countries protecting wildlife to protect its businesses.

  • nickh-1-nic
    3/22/2016 - 12:48 p.m.

    Because Kenya wants to have a good eco system as well as there tourists. If they protect both then both should be happy. I think this is a great idea not just because I love turtles though.

  • carsonb-2-bar
    3/22/2016 - 02:41 p.m.

    Kenya is developing its 330 miles of coastline for a billion-dollar tourism industry. The industry will employ a half-million people. Kenya is also trying to preserve the environment for the turtles that attracts all the visitors. The challenge is the turtles are very picky when it comes to laying eggs.

    Kenya's record is mixed in protecting the turtles because land development is happening. A hotel of former Renault F1 tycoon Flavio Briatore has been a problem and is an environmental disaster.

    Forests full of nesting birds were destroyed and the soil was eroded. In addition to this a seawall stopped turtles from coming ashore to lay eggs. Turtle need quiet sandy beaches and housing developments disturb that.

    Kenya needs to balance turtles and tourism. The uniques turtles will attract tourists. People will come from all over the world to see them. If they can balance the two it would be good for the environment and the hotels.

    I liked the article and the way the developers are working with nature and the government to protect the coast of Africa. If this can be done, I think the turtles will have a chance.

  • jacih-fel
    4/18/2016 - 02:11 p.m.

    Kenya wants to balance both interests for protecting turtles and the environment as well as its tourism industry because preserving both would keep the country stable and citizens content. As stated by the article, "the country is developing its 330 miles of coastline for a billion-dollar tourism industry that employs a half-million people".

  • lucasp-fel
    4/18/2016 - 02:12 p.m.

    Because the turtles are fixing to go extinct if they don't protect them and probably one of that country's biggest industry is tourism because they have such beautiful beaches

  • calaabj-fel
    4/18/2016 - 02:15 p.m.

    Kenya thinks it is best to balance turtles and tourism because preserving both would make the country more stable and it will also stable out the environment.

  • johnj-fel
    4/18/2016 - 02:15 p.m.

    It is i n kenya's best interest to balance turtles and tourism because tourism gets them alot of money and that money comes from the turtles that the tourists come to see.

  • garretta-fel
    4/18/2016 - 02:17 p.m.

    it is Kenya's best interest to balance turtles and tourism because Kenya gets loads of tourists that want to see the turtles.

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