With the assistance of international funding agencies women in the Solomon Islands are working hard to protect critically endangered sea turtles.

Rats and poachers have been identified as the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Known as the KAWAKI the group are now protecting important nesting grounds for hawksbill sea turtles by bringing together women from the diverse communities of Kahtupika, Wagina and Kia.

In a country where men traditionally make the decisions, KAWAKI women are breaking into the male-dominated field of conservation to incorporate their local knowledge and teach their communities about their role in saving turtles.

The group is funded by The Nature Conservancy, an environmental non-profit headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA and with additional grant funding from the Solomon Islands' Ministry of Environment.

Awareness campaigns in local villages were conducted to promote practices such as proper rubbish disposal and not eating turtles. Educating visitors to the Arnavons while creating jobs and building capacity among the women.

The critically endangered animal's numbers have plummeted. Not only do they have to avoid predators like rats, but researchers estimate 10,000 of them are harvested each year for legal subsistence hunting in meat and eggs, as well as illegal international trade in turtle products.

Overdeveloped coastal areas have also reduced natural nesting habitats and caused increased lighting which disorients hatchlings and nesting mothers.

Source: With EcoWatch