A recent study by Community Centred Conservation (C3) in northern Madagascar included surveys of several coastal communities to elucidate local knowledge of sea turtles. The results of this work have shown that whilst there was a sophisticated amount of understanding of turtle behavior and ecology amongst local fishers, there was very little knowledge of sea turtle conservation and the effects that poaching and fishing could have on turtle populations in the region.
In order to combat this, C3 developed a project to raise awareness of sea turtle conservation amongst local communities in northern Madagascar: the ‘Marine Conservation Roadshow’. This spectacle involved short sketches, games and activities performed by a local boy scout troop in several villages, to raise awareness of not only sea turtle conservation, but also of other marine species such as sharks and dugongs.
The project was launched in early 2011 and sketches were performed by the scouts themselves in the local dialects of the communities. They proved to be particularly effective at spreading the conservation message amongst the different age groups and genders of the village with their entertaining, lively shows. The project soon began to receive attention from local media, as articles were written in local newspapers about the success of the performances, and a report was broadcast on national television.
In coherence with the launch of the project, an application was made to involve the Marine Conservation Roadshow in the UNEP-Volvo Adventure Awards, a competition held each year in Göteborg, Sweden. The event celebrates young environmental leaders from around the world and selects ten teams each year from hundreds of applicants to present their project in front of a panel to seek funding for their projects. In March 2011, the scout troop was informed that they had been selected as finalists, and the team set about organising the extensive paperwork to take the group from their small town in northern Madagascar to Göteborg, Sweden.
The team departed for Sweden in early June, and spent five days at the awards ceremony. Participating with other young people from countries such as Oman, Malaysia and Turkey in workshops and activities based on environmental awareness, the group were also invited to spend time with local host families, and presented their project in front of the judges and the other teams at the awards.
Unfortunately, the project was not selected amongst the top three that qualified for funding, however it was a truly unforgettable experience for all of the team members involved. On their return to Madagascar, C3 and the Boy Scouts have been inspired to continue their project to best of their abilities based on the outstanding work that the other teams from around the world had accomplished.
C3 is also currently in the second phase of its turtle study, performing track counts in key nesting areas, and will soon disseminate findings of the study back to the communities in order to further conservation efforts for these highly threatened species.
Community Centred Conservation (C3) www.c-3.org.uk
UNEP-Volvo Adventure Awards http://www.volvoadventure.org/
This feature was kindly contributed by:
Owen Jones, Community Centred Conservation (C3)
Ismael Leandre, Community Centred Conservation (C3)
Brigitte Soazandry, Antsiranana Boy Scout Troop