We spent Monday morning exploring the Gede ruins, the remains of a Swahili city nestled in the forest just inland from where we're staying. Thriving for some thousand years as a trade center, Gede was mysteriously deserted around the 17th century (archaelogists speculate that a combination of disease, dwindling water resources, and attacks from neighboring cities did the population in). Inside the ruins monument we climbed up a tree platform that benefits the ASSETS program, which is a program that provides support for secondary school education for children of families surrounding the nearby Arabuko-Sokoke forest, as well as environmental education pertaining to sustainable use of forest resources.
We also spent some time in the past few days learning about the the Watamu Turtle Watch (WTW) programs administered by the Local Ocean Trust – we got a tour of their rehabilitation center (a short walk from our base here at Mwamba) Monday afternoon and learned about the problems facing sea turtle conservation in Kenya – as well as many solutions that WTW is pursuing. Afterwards we got a special treat – the chance to assist with the release of a small green sea turtle that had been caught in a fishing net back into the ocean here at the beach where we're staying! Tonight we begin the first of several nightly beach patrols to look for nesting turtles – a green sea turtle who laid a clutch of eggs two weeks ago nearby is expected to lay her second clutch in the next few days – so the class will be out patrolling the beach from 2:30am until 4am ithe next two nights n anticipation of her arrival. Tuesday we will also start collecting data on beach condition to help the Watamu Turtle Watch program better understand how nesting success correlates with beach erosion, vegtation cover, and other indicators of healthy beachfront. All of this important turtle conservation work is being done against a backdrop of continued beach development and disputes over land use along the coast – unfortunately a nearly universal challenge facing turtle conservation efforts worldwide. We're excited to play a small role in this local conservation endeavor, while also having some unforgettable experiences!