Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Saturday, 6th February 2016
The latest success story from our Watamu Turtle Conservation Project features one very lucky turtle and two passionate youngsters. Out fishing in Mida Creek one morning 13 year old Amos and 12 year old Elvis stumbled across a hawksbill turtle caught up in the mangrove roots. Luckily the juvenile was still alive and thanks to attending Dongo Kundo Primary School, the flagship school for Marine Scouts and the Project’s Education Programme, they knew just what to do.
Amos and Elvis rushed the hawksbill to the turtle rehabilitation centre where its special story was revealed. Soon after its arrival staff soon realised this was not the first time they had seen this juvenile. First rescued in June 2015, after becoming tangled in a fisherman’s net, it had already been weighed, measured and fitted with a unique identification tag thanks to the Bycatch Release Programme.
Having been released into the Watamu Marine National Park the turtle was once again picked up by the By Catch Release Programme in September 2015. On this occasion the endangered hawksbill was covered in barnacles and so spent the next four days at the rehabilitation centre. Feeling good as new the juvenile was once again released into the National Park with high hopes. But just one week later the young turtle was back.
With a life threatening spear gun wound the turtle was once again admitted and treated by local vet Dr Faraj Feisal. After beating the odds so many times the turtle was named Bahati, meaning ‘lucky’ in Swahili. After regular sea baths to rebuild strength Bahati had made a miraculous recovery and was once again released back into the ocean.
But this hawksbill wasn’t done yet and on the 4th February 2016 was rescued by Amos and Elvis. Back at the Centre once again the team was able to see how well Bahati’s wounds had healed. Having patients that return more than once also allows their growth and health to be monitored. In Bahati’s case this turtle has gained almost 2kgs in weight and grown an impressive 9.2cm since June 2015.
Bahati’s story is an amazing one, especially given that the odds are often stacked against this beautiful species with illegal slaughter of turtles being common place in local culture. This lucky turtle has now been returned to the Watamu Marine National Park and thanks to the helping hand of the Bycatch Release Programme will hopefully make it to adulthood!
But perhaps inspiring even more hope are Amos and Elvis who provide a shining example of the importance of educating the next generation of the community. Amos is a keen conservationist and his passion for the environment was recognised when he recently won the ‘Conservationist of the Year’ award at school. With Elvis following in his footsteps its clear these two are truly devoted to protecting their local ocean!
By Megan Smith, WorkingAbroad team
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