When he received a call from a fisherman who accidentally caught a turtle off the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, Fikiri Kiponda of the local ocean protection jumped into his car to save it.
The 44-year-old’s job as an accountant is a far cry from his previous career. He now dedicates himself to the protection of endangered turtles that face many threats – from being contaminated to being sold for food, traditional medical purposes or to make jewelry.
When a call for help came to Kiponda, he hurried to see the tortoise for injuries that needed to be treated at the tortoise rehab center. It was later republished in the North National Marine Park.
“The moment I think of targeting a healthy turtle and throwing it back into the sea, the feeling is very high,” he said.
There are five species of sea turtles in Kenya. All are internationally recognized as dangerous and protected with life imprisonment under local law.
Local Ocean Conservation works in grassroots solutions with local communities. Kiponda and others continue to talk about the importance of a healthy ocean for livelihood.
More than 350 fishermen in the North have been cooperating with the group for many years. Previously, when they caught turtles in nets, they would often kill them for food, for traditional medical purposes, or to keep their shells as cups.
Consumption of plastic in the sea is another threat to turtles, making internal enclosures dangerous.