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Bita’ama turns dolphin criticisms into optimism

THEY were criticized and condemned internationally for killing dolphins, but Bita’ama community is turning that into pride.

The North Malaita community under an Association formed (Bita’ama United Tribal Community Assembly Association, BUTCAA), is now preparing to showcase a well-designed concept to the world.

A delegation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be travelling to Bita’ama to witness what the community will offer.

The one-day ceremony planned for Tuesday next week (May 26), involves presenting and demonstrating a dolphin preservation concept that will turn the dolphin killing site into a tourist attraction site.

The government delegation will be taken into the village and shown the concept plan, paddled into the harbour and be shown how dolphins will be called for as part of the tourists attraction and discuss with BUTCAA how best the concept will be materialised with government assistance.

“There is no looking back, the community through BUTCAA have turned the international outcry and gossip into a long term positive outcome,” secretary of BUTCAA Michael A. Tolingikirio said.

Mr Tolingikirio said since people were lured by Earth Island Institute (EII) from their cultural heritage and pride of killing dolphins with a housing project, people of Bita’ama continued to look at the positive side of things.

“EII failed to fulfill their housing project for the community. They promised to help people build permanent homes. EII did provided a sawmill but that was it. Nothing happened.

“But the people of Bita’ama never look back. We look at another option which is resurrecting that dolphin cultural (taboo) site.

“We have a concept in place and have presented the concept to the government through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. They agreed to come and discuss and see what we will be offering.

“This is why the delegation will be coming and we are prepared to show the government the plan we have.

“We rest our hope on the government to help us progress and advance the plan. Other aid donors who have been very vocal against dolphin killing should be happy and throw in their support towards this dream.

“We hope when the concept is implemented, Bita’ama will become one of the world and country’s tourist destination sites because the traditional skills of calling dolphins will be part of the surprise package.”

The government delegation that will be travelling to Bita’ama will include Member of Parliament for North Malaita Jimmy Lusibaea, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, SIVB CEO and others.

Mr Tolingikirio added that the visit is also part of preparation for a dolphin festival they will be staging on a date to be confirmed after the delegation visited Bita’ama.

The festival is expected to become an annual event to attract tourists and people.

The secretary extended an open invitation to people from surrounding communities to join the program planned for next Tuesday at Bita’ama village.

“People in the surrounding areas and anywhere are welcome to join the program next week.”

By EDNAL PALMER