The Mamanuca Group of Islands is one of Fiji known nesting sites for sea turtles main Hawksbill turtle. Over the years, adult turtles and turtle eggs are overexploited for meat and for traditional use with a high lack of awareness on the legislation that protects this critically endangered species by the IUCN. The project has allowed the Mamanuca Environment Society team to extend and promote the importance of sea turtles to the grass root community from adults to the youngest at preschool level. Also part of the project are the resort staff and management and tourist operators in the region.
Collaborative work continues with International working partners and we were fortunate to host two scientists for two days on Mana Island Resort. Visiting team to the Mamanuca region includes Dr George Balaz from Honu World Hawaii and Dr Theirry Work from the US Geological Survey. Having worked on the turtle project for more that 40 years in the Pacific, Dr George shared his experience working in different countries and the challenges he faced in turtle conservation. Dr Thierry having worked extensively on wildlife health and we had the privilege to learn on how best to manage the injured and sick turtles in Mana rehabilitation captive pond and gave recommendation for specific medication for different health conditions. Also discussed was pond maintenance with the main focus on diet, water depth, medication treatment and pond water circulation.
The visiting team took time to meet the resort management, MES team and later in the evening gave presentation to resort staff on the work that has been involved in different countries. Also visited during the two days was the recent nesting ground on Mana Island. Dr George provided some technical skills when conducting survey after the hatching season and estimation of clutch size, number of successful hatchling and number of dead hatchlings. According to Karalaini Rereavosa, MES trainee with the Turtle project, the two days visit was a great learning experience and technical skills acquired will assist her in her future turtle monitoring program. This was supported by Ilisapeci Sokidi, Turtle project officer. “Iam now confident in conducting future nesting survey after the training program and the assessment and monitoring of turtles and proper application of medication for specific health condition” said Ilisapeci.
By the end of day two, the team also visited one of our participating school, Mana SDA and spent time talking to the Head teacher, Mr Sefanaia Gauna and the students. A kind donation of turtle story books was presented to Mr Gauna and will be kept in the school library for any student who wishes to read. The Mamanuca Environment Society continues to build working partners with wildlife experts that support our conservation work in the region.