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Converting turtle hunters

Dawn Gibson
Thursday, July 31, 2014

FROM the grim reality of no more than three turtles swimming through the Great Sea Reef (GSR), to spotting 70 of these beauties in 20 minutes — this was one of the many notable successes of the four-year Dau ni Vonu (DnV) program.

The program, implemented by WWF South Pacific, began in 2010 and essentially transformed villagers throughout Vanua Levu from being turtle hunters to turtle conservationists and rehabilitating turtle populations in the country.

At a talanoa session hosted by the organisation in Suva on Monday, turtle project manager Merewalesi Laveti told The Fiji Times that although the DnV project had officially come to an end, they were hoping to secure funds to continue with the program, as well as to branch out into other communities in Fiji.

"In terms of the WWF-funded project, it has come to an end, but we're still in the negotiation process with some of the other offices trying to sell the successes and challenges of the project over the years, to gauge the second phase of the project," Ms Laveti said.

"The second phase is basically us looking at alternative sources of livelihood to the communities to be sure they don't rely on turtles for traditional purposes and for subsistence."

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