Twenty years ago, a Rapid Biodiversity Assessment revealed the incredible biodiversity of the Conflict Island Atoll, documenting extensive areas of coral coverage and species diversity at an average of 220 species of fish per site, (higher than the Great Barrier Reef!).
Today, conservation responsibility lies with the owner, the visitors and the local community to uphold all practices that safeguard this pristine and unique area of the world.
To that end, the owner, Ian Gowrie-Smith, has funded the Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative (“CICI”).
Over the past 12 months CICI has developed relationships with international organisations and many universities around Australia to develop specific programmes focused on turtles, and sharks and rays.
The Global FinPrint Project are leading Shark and Ray Research, and WWF are looking into hawksbill turtles, both under the auspices of SPREP (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme) who facilitate the protection and sustainable development of Pacific Nations.
CICI runs Turtle Tagging Internships from October to February and Shark and Ray Research Internships from February to May, and we are in the process of developing a coral reef and fish Internship as well. Anyone with has a passion for marine life and conservation is encouraged to participate, but there is a strong focus on science, so many participants are from universities who are studying marine biology or conservation.
One of CICI’s goals is to develop good local community awareness and education programs and provide employment through the running of these intern programs. Already there has been massive success with community engagement this year, having an entire community agree to stop harvesting any turtles or eggs from the islands.
CICI currently have a small staff of just 8 who play a key role in the programs and communication with the local people.
You can learn more and enquire about an internship on their website.
If you liked this post, you might also like to read how thousands of endangered turtle hatchlings are saved at Tanjong Jara Resort, on the Malay Peninsula.