Go Volunteer for Sea Turtle Conservation in The Gambia: Night Beach Walk with Local Conservationists is an Awesome Experience

Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association (CETAG) has started their annual turtle monitoring program. Thanks to My Gambia team and other donors who helped raised funded the turtle hatchery at Gunjur beach.
This team of conservation volunteers patrolled the coast of Gunjur to look for turtle nests and protect adult turtles from been poached. Daily night patrol along the coast of Gunjur and in other coastal communities has increased the conservation success of endangered sea turtles in the Gambia. Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association’s field effort has helped reduce turtle egg poaching and facilitate the conservation of sea turtles in The Gambia.
Sea turtle nesting along the Gambian coastline continued to face illegal harvest, entanglement in fishing gear, beachfront development, and industrial lighting near beaches that disorient hatchlings and affect adults contributing to the steep decline of this species. Community-led intervention by Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association has enormously helped improve the recovery of the sea turtle population along the Gambian coastline.
This team of local conservation volunteers and environmentalists are aware of the concern that turtle eggs and hatchlings should only be handled when absolutely necessary — for their protection or for collecting research data — and then only by trained staff, not by tourists clamouring for Instagram snaps or Facebook posts! This is why Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association is taking an exemplary role in doing what they do best, conserving green sea turtles in the country.
The purposes of their intervention are to protect the living sea turtles and, secondly, to increase the chances for turtle hatchlings to reach maturity. We are doing so by encouraging villagers not to capture or kill adult turtles. At the same time, turtle eggs that would otherwise have been eaten are protected and given a chance to hatch at our local hatchery located on the coast of Gunjur village, The Gambia.
CETAG’s main energy isn’t put into the hatchery itself but into raising local awareness of the need for conservation. Locals increasingly recognize the problems of over-exploitation of natural resources, thus putting them into conservation can improve the population status of endangered or vulnerable species. We are hopeful that their knowledge will be passed on to other villagers as well as to the following generations.
Seasonal beach patrol programs are part of the association’s conservation efforts in The Gambia. The team’s program is proven to be an effective tool for advancing conservation in The Gambia in a way that has increased the survival chance of hatchings than when left in the wild. Their program has also directly engaged and benefits local communities of Gunjur, Kartong, and Sanyang villages. People in these communities begin to see conservation in a different light, and they consider new possibilities alongside conservation, such as community-based tourism, and environmental education in schools, and more.
Though still far from the goal of advancing large-scale turtle conservation program in the country, Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association is taking solid steps in the right direction that can be used to inform conservation efforts in coastal communities throughout the Gambia.
Together many conservation groups can continue to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation for generations to come! The night patrol in Gunjur village and the turtle hatchery are surviving entirely on donations we receive from My Gambia and other donors. Feel free to reach out to the organization that would like to support their sea turtle conservation in The Gambia. Something quite fascinating to know is that Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism Association comprises of community-based organizations that are committed to conservation and sustainable in various aspects. These associations are Gunjur Conservation Society, Eco Travel Gambia, Trust Agency for Rural Development, Gunjur Village Museum and Gunjur Dalaba Eco Lodge.
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