A CONSERVATION foundation in England, Rufford Foundation, has provided funding support for the conservation of Hawksbill Turtle on Malaulalo Island, Three Sisters, in Makira Ulawa Province.
A total of nearly 5,000 pounds was made available to the Malaulalo Conservation & Tourism Association towards the end of last year to support this conservation initiative in the areas of research, training, awareness and logistics.
Chief Dennis Marita, who is the Chairman of the Association and Chief of Po’onapaina Tribe in Ulawa, thanked the Rufford Foundation for their consideration and support towards this initiative.
“This funding will enable conservationists, researchers and conservation trainers to support the resource owners and the community of Malaulalo island to move on with this conservation programme,” Mr Marita said.
“The foundation has purchased a Yamaha 40-horse power OBM for logistical support for this conservation initiative along with other logistical support to bring in resource people to the island and to embark on an awareness campaign to the surrounding islands and communities,’’ Mr Marita said in email to Solomon Star.
He said the conservation project is focused more on the Hawksbill Turtle, whose status is endangered.
Mr Marita said Tetepare and Anavon are doing similar work and Malaulalo would also want to do the same.
“The ultimate objective is to make Malaulalo a marine sanctuary or habitat for the eastern part of Solomon Islands.
“This could help save endangered marine species like the Hawksbill Turtle from total annihilation and extinction”
“Malaulalo Island is about 35km from Kirakira, the provincial capital of Makira Ulawa Province.
“It is about 3.34 km2 and takes about 45 minutes flight from Honiara and another 40 minutes of dashing through the waves to get to the island.
“The island is registered and is owned by the Poonapaina community of Ulawa and the Tawarodo community of Ugi Island,’’ he explained.
Mr Marita added Malaulalo Island has been under conservation since 2010 as a community initiative based on traditional authority and community understanding.
Mr Marita, who is also a resource owner of the island, placed a ban on all forms of harvesting of marine and land resources after a period of over-harvesting by the island residents and illegal settlers.
“In 2010 most of the illegal settlers were removed through a High Court injunction and the island came under conservation.
“After five years of conservation, the island is beginning to rejuvenate itself and the natural wildlife is beginning to regain itself again.”
The island has an endemic species of bird known as the Chest-nut Bellied Monarch that has attracted international researchers from Australia and the US who have come to study this bird species over the last three years.
This conservation initiative should help boost the number of visitors to the island in the coming years.
Tourism development is also in progress at the moment with a lot more focus on the environment and cultural heritage of the island as major source of attractions for visitors.
Mr Marita said the crocodile culture and the complete dynamic landscapes of the island could transform the island to be a tourism hub in the eastern part of Solomon Islands.
He said the country, and especially communities in the Makira Ulawa Province that Malaulalo Island is under conservation, must respect the initiative for the future of their children.
“In particular we would like to make special reference to the Hawksbill turtle that it is an endangered species so help protect it so that our children can still be able to see them in the years to come,’’ Mr Marita said.
By DENVER NEWTER