Respect the fragile ecosystem

Turtle monitor Peter Qarau catches, tags, measures and releases a green se turtle along with 11 year old Irris and her mom Patricia Mallam of WWF South Pacific in Yadua Island

YOUNG Fijians need to be taught to respect and treasure their fragile natural ecosystem if the country is serious about preserving them for the future.

World Wildlife Fund Pacific’s turtle monitor or Daunivonu, Pita Qarau, believes the young Fijian population need to be taught the importance of conserving their ecosystem and natural resources.

The Denimanu native on Yadua Island said the Fijian people had taken their natural resources for granted and forgotten that it was capable of diminishing.

“This is why I am working with children in the village carrying out minor activities to teach them about the importance of their environment,” he said.

“We hold community clean ups and have questions and answer sessions where children raise queries about the environment and as I carry out turtle monitoring, I often teach them about the importance of preserving our sea turtles.

“Leaving in a remote location like Yadua Island, I feel that no one else is coming to teach our children about the importance of conservation.

“Therefore the onus is upon us the villagers and the elders of the island to impart the knowledge we have to our young ones.”

The 56-year-old grandfather said he had started his work as a turtle monitor in 2010 adding he had been carrying out the task for eight years now. “I normally go around the island looking for turtle sites, counting them and noting them for our database,” he said.

“Since the moratorium of the sea turtle we have been witnessing changes in our sea turtle populations but it has not been gradual. “Our sea turtles still need to be protected because there has been positive sign to indicate that their population have fully recovered.

“Turtle nesting sites on the island have been increasing slightly and even though this is not a very positive sign it is at least encouraging.”

Mr Qarau thanked WWF Pacific for tasking him with the important task of being a Daunivonu or turtle monitor — a role he has been playing proudly for the past eight years.

“The truth is if I was told about the role and the need to protect sea turtles 20 years ago, I would never have changed from a hunter to a conservator,” he said.

“Since being recruited in the program since 2010 as a community-based turtle monitors I have learnt to appreciate and take my new role very seriously.

“I 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 because following the training I am now able to see another part to the sea turtles life which is underwater.”

Mr Qarau said that personally viewing the foraging area of the sea turtles had enabled him to realise that actions on land could influence the health of the ocean.

“This is why I feel that we need to teach our young ones and people to protect their natural ecosystem on land because it affected the balance of things under the sea,” he said.

“Since they are our future citizens we are doing a favour for our environment because they will grow up to know the importance of respecting their surroundings.

“It is about time Fijians changed their view and concept of the environment taking it for granted as something that will exist forever.”We need to all work together to ensure that our environment exists to the next millennium and that our future generations share the same benefits we are currently enjoying from our environment.”

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