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Kenyan beach boys: hope through conservation
The rockpools of Watamu Marine National Park in Kenya provide an opportunity for tourists to experience some of its glorious marine life. Through training and resources, A Rocha’s Marine Programme is improving the livelihoods of local ‘beach boys’ and conserving the park’s precious habitats.
January 2017 - December 2018
Charity information: A Rocha International
The rockpools of Watamu’s marine park are important for their diverse habitats and unique species. Easily accessible from the beach, they are enjoyed by guests of nearby hotels and give a taster of the ocean’s vast marine life. Local young men, known as ‘beach boys’, use the opportunity to show tourists around and sell them snorkelling trips and safaris. However, these beach boys often have limited knowledge, can cause damage to the habitats, and can become caught up in drugs and prostitution.
A Rocha Kenya’s field study centre is based just a few minutes’ walk from these rockpool habitats. The centre has an education building and a Kenyan marine biologist with experience studying these rockpools. Using this expertise, A Rocha will be working with the beach boys and local management authority to protect these habitats and develop a sustainable rockpool guide training programme, which will help to improve the livelihoods of these vulnerable individuals.
Conservation of rockpool habitats in Watamu Marine National Park
Activities» Work with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to develop a management plan for the sustainable use of these habitats.
» Develop a monitoring and discovery programme for important species, such as the rare coral Anomastraea irregularis.
What success will look like
Success will be the inclusion of rockpool habitats in the management plan of the local authority, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Sustainable tourism being practiced by local hotels, guides and guests
Activities» Implement four day-long training sessions, which will be a mix of field based training in the rockpools and classroom sessions.
» Offer a forum for discussing and understanding the needs and desires of tourists, including the seedier side of the industry.
What success will look like
Success will be demonstrated through guides and tourists taking active measures to respect and limit their damage to marine habitats.
Improved livelihoods of local beach boys
Activities» Train ten high-quality candidates as local guides.
» Offer guides training in basic business principles such as accounting and budgeting.
» Produce rockpool guidebooks for use with tourists, which will also give the guides a more professional appearance.
What success will look like
Success will be ten guides, equipped with training and expertise and offering sustainable and professional services to local tourists.
Highlighting the unique nature of rockpool habitats through research, media and education, management and livelihood development, will ensure that they are better integrated into conservation measures. Success locally will be demonstrated by trained guides delivering ecologically sensitive and economically successful services to tourists, as well as requesting further training and support. Wider success will be demonstrated by requests to extend this project to other KWS managed parks in Kenya.
The main risk is that the young men will not be open to the training and resources being offered. However, we have already developed a relationship with many of them through our marine research and seminars, indicating that this is unlikely to be the case. Another risk is that KWS will not include rockpools in their management of the park. However, KWS have been made aware of this research and have indicated a desire to manage all areas of the park. An MoU formalizes our relationship with KWS.
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Budget - Project Cost: £70,500Loading graph....
Amount Heading Description £7,100 Education, outreach & research Field-based and classroom training sessions and monitoring of rockpool species £7,200 Travel to study sites Local transport and travel between Kenya and the UK for marine scientists £56,200 Staff costs Kenyan marine biologist, two interns and Dr Robert Sluka (Lead Scientist)
Current Funding / Pledges
Source Amount UK trust funding £10,000 Guaranteed US fund £810 Guaranteed
Gazetted in 1968, Watamu Marine National Park is one of the oldest Marine Protected Areas in Africa and indeed the world. The intertidal rocky platforms contain a high diversity of species, including many fish found nowhere else in the park and a number of commercially important species which use the habitats as nursery and feeding grounds. However, located in Kenya’s Coastal Province in the county of Kilifi, the park also lies in one of the poorest regions of the country.
Local beach boys will be the primary beneficiaries of this project, whose livelihoods will be improved through training and resources. Yet the people of Kenya’s Coastal Province are among the poorest in the country, so developing sustainable tourism opportunities such as these are also important for the natural resource base and the wider community.
The work of staff and volunteers at A Rocha Kenya over the past five years has shed significant light on the biodiversity of Watamu Marine National Park. We have identified and described critical habitats, endangered species and threats. Our research and education centre is a 10 minute walk from these habitats, so we are well-placed to be the lead agency. We are already developing relationships with the young men who will be trained and they have indicated a desire to learn from our staff.
Read more about the Charity running this project.
Dr Robert Sluka – Lead Scientist, Coastal And Marine Conservation Programme, A Rocha International
Robert Sluka has 20 years’ experience in marine research and conservation, focused on biodiversity conservation, marine protected areas and fisheries.
Peter Musembi – Marine Researcher, A Rocha Kenya
Peter is a Kenyan marine biologist working in Watamu. He has implemented several research projects and is A Rocha Kenya’s main marine researcher.