Honiara, 4th January 2024: Two Rangers from the Visunauru Leatherback Turtle Conservation site in the Mbota Moli region, East Guadalcanal, recently embarked on an enlightening trip to the Tetepare Conservation site in the West Province.
This educational journey held significant importance for both men, given that the conservation initiatives in their Visunauru community had only recently commenced. The trip followed the unveiling of a conservation board in their community, attended by staff from the Inshore Division of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).
The five-day visit to Tetepare served as an eye-opening experience for Jefferson Waisitamakia and Derick Chris Mahulia. Jefferson expressed his newfound understanding of data collection techniques, particularly in recording nesting activities, hatchery processes, and the meticulous documentation of turtle hatching stages, including unfertile and spoiled eggs. He also gained insights into how turtles come up on the beach and the measurement techniques applied.
Reflecting on the journey, Jefferson stated, “I believe I have acquired a wealth of knowledge during this trip. I am eager to apply these skills back home in Visunauru and contribute to our conservation efforts.”
Addressing the challenges faced in their community, such as the lack of data collection infrastructure and the threat of sea-level rise affecting turtle nesting sites, Jefferson proposed relocating eggs to a secure hatchery, similar to what he observed in Tetepare and Baniata Community on Rendova Island.
Expressing gratitude for the organizers of the trip, Jefferson emphasized his commitment to implementing the knowledge gained during the Tetepare trip to benefit the Visunauru community.
Derick Chris Mahulia echoed his colleague’s sentiments, describing the look and learn program as a transformative experience. He emphasized the valuable insights gained during the Tetepare trip, including details about leatherback turtle life cycles, relocation of nesting, inventory procedures after hatching and the tagging of leatherback turtles.
Mahulia spoke about his experience in moving eggs to another hatchery and highlighted the importance of meticulous planning and consideration of factors such as nest depth and location. He stressed the necessity of careful handling during the relocation process to avoid any adverse effects on the eggs.
Mahulia also shared his observations from the visit to Baniata Community on Rendova Island, drawing parallels between their conservation efforts and those in Visunauru. He expressed enthusiasm about implementing the lessons learned from both Tetepare and Baniata to enhance their community’s conservation practices.
Also, Mahulia expressed his surprise at the diverse aspects of Tetepare Islands, not limited to turtle nesting grounds but also encompassing forest conservation. He pledged to encourage his community to adopt a similar holistic approach to conservation.
The Rangers’ trip to Tetepare and Baniata has not only broadened their understanding of conservation practices but has also inspired them to contribute actively to the protection of leatherback turtles in their community.
United States based Conservation International and the Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources co-funded the trip to the Tetepare.
Francis Pituvaka, Communication Officer