Turtle Conservation – New Family Tradition

© Jone Tuipelehaki
© Jone Tuipelehaki
 If you had to speak to Pita Qarau five years ago about the importance of protecting sea turtles he would have just said “ok”, nod his head and then continued with catching them for whatever purpose it required. But, that was five years ago and within those years Pita has undergone a major shift.

Being recruited as a part of the first set of community based turtle monitors from the island of Yadua, Pita takes this new role very seriously. So much so, that he has also roped in his son to be a part of the turtle monitors. The father- son combination underwent a PADI underwater dive training as part of the capacity building earmarked for the turtle monitors.

“I am very thankful to the WWF South Pacific for opening this window of opportunity for me to learn about diving,” an excited Pita said.

“With the Daunivonu (turtle monitors) work I only used to look after the areas above water, to see that when nesters come in, their nests are not disturbed and to ensure that when the turtles return to sea they are not captured,” Pita adds, “In this training I am now able to see another part to the sea turtles life which is underwater.”

“In seeing the foraging area for myself I now realise the importance our actions on land can influence the health of the ocean.”

“In involving my son in this training, I had wanted him to know and learn the importance of protecting and preserving the environment.”

At 18 years of age, Pita Qarau’s son is the youngest member of the Daunivonu network and also the youngest Fish Warden

“I am very proud of the fact that in involving my son in this training he has in turn started to talk about the importance of not only sea turtle conservation but also environment conservation as a whole.”

Yadua Island is one of the 37 villages of the Qoliqoli Cokovata who are current WWF partners and managing network of protected areas in over 1300km2 of the Great Sea Reef. The project location is significant for the Coral Triangle and is one of the hotspots of biodiversity within the South-West Pacific Priority Place; one of WWF’s agreed 35 most important locations for conservation, in the world.