Ahmad Manjang: Turtles are Seriously Endangered Species
The challenges posed by Climate Change and Environmental Degradation are not only a threat to human life but wild life too as some animals are even classified as highly endangered species due to the risk of extinction they face from climate change as a result of the damages of their ecosystems.
Therefore, environmental and climate change activists are constantly on the move to provide safe haven for such endangered species by conducting reforestation, proper ecosystem management and other environmental protection methods to safeguard these animals.
One such concerned Environmentalist and Microbiologist is Ahmad Manjang, a native of Gunjur Village who spearheads a turtle protection project in partnership with other environmentally sound minds where volunteers collect eggs of these endangered turtles to create a hatchery and nesting havens and later release them into the ocean after few weeks of hatchery. “I am really passionate about the environment.” he added.
According to him, the Ecotourism project is a combination of different environmental and tourism organizations in Gunjur and already the turtle project has been able to release at least 400 turtles into the natural habitat saying over 3500 eggs are under incubation as they continue to hatch in intervals or continuously.
The Microbiologist, explained that, the collaborative efforts are to promote responsible tourism through ecotourism so that the common man will benefit from the proceeds of the tourism sector in the Gambia, adding that will create opportunities for tourists to contribute into the development of the grassroots communities as they will stay with the locals. “Ecotourism will show tourists the real Gambia” Manjang stated.
Besides, a tentative name was coined to reflect the activities of this collaboration as the Gunjur Environmental Intervention Group (GEIG) was formed recently to exude the various efforts put together by the various development and environmental protection activities of the villagers under one umbrella body to lobby for better services and meet broader targets in which they are partnering with the Gunjur Conservation Group in this turtle saving project.
However, there are financial, communication and proper data collection challenges as the turtle project lead man narrated saying the project needs some gadgets such as laptop, internet connection for proper data collection purposes as well as a solid capital to create some incentives for the volunteers as dedication to the mission alone isn’t enough since most of the volunteers must survive too. “These volunteers could very soon find out that their families and they have to live.” he pointed out.
Mr. Manjang continued that, despite the challenges, their objective is to organize big international conferences to promote this turtle and ecotourism projects in Gunjur but also to invite international and local students to conduct their internships and researches for their thesis on the turtles’ project which will promote the ecotourism concept and knowledge sharing. “This is the best year ever since this conversation effort started in saving the turtles” he said.
Manjang stated that, the youth volunteer conservationists are professionally trained by international universities such as Middlesex University of the UK and by the Forestry Department but the Gambia government had no initiatives on this area to employ these volunteers and that led to the creation of this community volunteerism concept to protection these endangered species, the environment and the ecosystem in the Gambia.
He noted that, initially non-conservationists used to collect the eggs of these turtles and kill the mothers of these endangered species along the eggs collection process but of recent conscious conservationists in the area are apprehending such people and prosecuting them for those heinous acts against the species and ecosystem. “A guy was arrested in Sanyang Village for collecting eggs and killing the mothers of these turtles.” he stated.
According to Manjang, monkeys, monitor lizards and non-conservationists are great threat to these turtles as these predators constantly continue to look for these endangered species for food saying every effort is needed to conserve these turtles for posterity and for a balance ecosystem.