Vår medarbetare Hanna Lindgren är under hösten tjänstledig för att arbeta som volontär i Kenya. Hon har tidigare skrivit om ett besök på barnhemmet Born Again och om hur hon med ett bidrag från oss hjälpt till med att laga deras fönster. Här skriver Hanna om sitt valhajsprojekt och en städdag på stranden.
“Kenya Vision 2030” is a new long-term development plan for the country. The goal of the vision is to create a “globally competitive and prosperios country with a high quality of life by 2030” In Kenya, nature and tourism have always gone hand in hand. Wildlife has always served as one of the major tourist draw cards, and the resultant revenue has payed a major role in the country’s development. In recognition to this, the Government of Kenya has placed great priority on wildlife preservation in Kenya. Eco-tourism, and community wildlife and conservation ventures offer the visitor a personalized and rewarding wildlife experience that gives them a chance to appreciate, respect and protect Kenya’s wildlife. Throughout Kenya there is growing awareness of the benefits of community based tourism projects.
The whale shark project
The whale shark is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest fish species in the world. The species originated approximately 60 million years ago. The biggest encountered was 12.65 meters long and weighed 21.5 tons. But we think there is even greater. In Swahili the whale shark is called Papa Shillingi, translating as “shark covered in shillings”. There is a local legend that God was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish, that he gave his angels handfuls of gold and silver coins to throw down from heaven onto its back. The whale shark is also called “The Gentle Giant” on the grounds that it is totally harmless towards humans. The whale shark lives in tropical waters and can be up to 70 years old. It is a comparatively unexplored nature, there are many unanswered questions about its behavior.
The research project runs by Volker Bassen, named EAWST, East African Whale Shark Trust. Volker and his organization wants together with locals create the world’s largest enclosure (Waa Whale Shark Conservation Project) for two smaller whale sharks here in Diani Beach, with the main objective to increase awareness of this endangered specie. The introduction of whale sharks in open water enclosure would create more attraction to visitors both local and foreign and mark the begginning of whale shark tourism in Kenya and in Africa as well as raising much needed awareness for this fish.
The whale shark is hunted for their fins and their liver is used to protect the hulls of boats. But there are better options for this, such as cashewnutoil. Another danger to the whale shark is the plastic that floats around on the surface, a whale shark can die just by swallowing a piece of plastic with a size of a walnut, therefore we regularly organize schoolpresentations to increase the awareness of how much the trash can harm and we are also organizing so-called beach cleanups to minimize the risk.
Waa Whale Shark Conservation Project’s goal is to get politicians and the local people to understand that the whole community will make more money on a living whale shark than a dead one. But unfortunately the project meets a lot of resistance, it has taken the organization about 5 years to get through the certificate to even get to create an enclosure.
In Kenya, such an enclousure would mean increased income for the community and more tourists and job opportunities for the locals, but it would also mean increased revenue for research and conservation of the whale shark. Interest in ‘shark spotting “just gets bigger and bigger. In the near future, tourists will have the opportunity to access information about the whale shark and then to swim with the whale shark in its natural environment at the Waa Whale Shark Conservation. Kenya would be able to promote themselves as the country with the “Big 6” instead of the “Big 5” and thus be able to compete in the “International Tourism Market.”
This is the site for the enclosure that we gonna start building in november.
If you wanna know more about this project, follow the links below:
This saturday we organized a monthly so called beach clean-up. We had some kids from Montessorischool to help us.
We do this to protect the ocean and keep the beaches clean from plastic and trash, both due to the tourism and the animals. We collected 15 bags with plastic and other trash this day.
Here are some pictures from our day at the beach.