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Because of Corona, discarded masks threaten rare turtles in Kenya

The waste associated with the Corona pandemic is increasing the waste crisis in many parts of the world. As the British magazine The Times reported that pollution related to the Coronavirus is worsening the environmental situation on the Kenyan island of Lamu, located on the Indian Ocean, and increasingly threatens rare turtles in this region, which is known for its quiet lifestyle and rural tourism projects.

Decline in 3 decades

The magazine said that dozens of protective masks and discarded plastic gloves are found daily on the eastern coast of the island, noting that this new matter imposed by the Corona pandemic increases the size of the threats facing the sensitive ecosystem there, especially the marine turtles, which are one of the biggest tourist attractions. In the region.

Statistics indicate that Kenya lost 80% of the total sea turtle population throughout the country during the last three decades, especially due to its ingestion of a lot of plastic waste or difficult-to-digest waste, which causes it to “buoyancy syndrome”, as these wastes block the pathways of the digestive system. Turtles cannot properly digest food, which results in gases in their intestines that prevent them from diving in search of food, which ultimately leads to starvation.

Every year, local environmental societies find many turtles that have suffered such a fate, in addition to sometimes dolphins, who died because of a plastic bag or other cause that strangled them until they died.

This waste clogs the digestive tracts of turtles (Shutterstock).

Turtle rescue mission

A small team of activists is currently undertaking a daily mission to keep the sea and beaches clean and educate locals and visitors to the area in order to keep Lamu Island preserving its magic.

The project, called the “Lamcot Initiative for Marine Conservation”, is one of 60 conservation projects in 20 African countries that receive vital support from the British charity Tusk, which is concerned with protecting endangered animal species. All over the continent.

Atwa Salem, the project coordinator, says that 90 percent of the local population depends on tourism and fishing as economic activities, but both are now threatened by marine pollution. “When the sea encounters this type of (plastic) materials, the fishing activity and its profitability actually decrease … and this creates a series of problems,” she added.

The organizers of the Lamu initiative to preserve the environment – with the support of the Tusk Foundation – have found a way to deal with the plastic waste dilemma on that island, where donkeys, which are the main means of transportation there, in the absence of cars, are used to collect garbage from homes, companies and temporary containers.

The waste is then transported to a central landfill, where it is sorted, and paper waste is collected in the form of balls to provide fuel for cooking stoves in the area, while the bottles are used in construction work or are stored, in the hope that a suitable machine for breaking glass will someday arrive on the island.

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