The KAWAKI Women's Group: Turtle Advocates

Current initiative

Published March 2020

Sea turtle. Credit: Bernard Spragg.

Sea turtle. Credit: Bernard Spragg.

In 2016, with support from The Nature Conservancy, the KAWAKI Women’s Network was formed to encourage and enable women to take a leading role in the conservation of hawksbill turtles in the Arnavon Community Marine Park (ACMP) in the Solomon Islands. The ACMP is home to the largest rookery of hawksbill turtles in the South Pacific and the livelihoods of many of the residents depend on it. The KAWAKI Women’s Network is raising awareness in villages across the Solomon Islands about the conservation of hawksbill turtles and is implementing an education programme in schools to encourage the next generation of conservationists. 

Lead

The Nature Conservancy Logo

Location

This project is being carried out across the Solomon Islands with a specific focus on the Arnavon Islands, location of the Arnavon Community Marine Park (ACMP) and the largest rookery of hawksbill turtles in the South Pacific. 

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricate

Products in trade

Turtle meat, eggs and shells

Overview of the problem

The turtles are protected by local conservation groups while nesting within the reserve but once they leave they are at risk of poaching for international trade in turtle products and also subsistence hunting by locals. 

The anti-IWT initiative

Conservation within the Solomon Islands has traditionally been carried out by men but the KAWAKI Women’s Network, comprised of women from the communities of Kahtupika, Wagina and Kia, is enabling women to take an active role in conservation. The KAWAKI Women’s Network aims to raise awareness of the importance of the Arnavon Islands and to encourage community conservation and sustainable management of marine resources, specifically turtles. 

Education lies at the heart of the strategy and the group has developed an educational presentation using a flipchart that can be toured around the villages and schools to educate locals about the importance of the ACMP and the turtles that nest there. Within the ACMP the women take turns to watch over the nests in groups and help to create paths for the turtles to reach the ocean, protecting them from predators as they make their way to the sea.

The group hopes to create the Solomon Islands' first women-run ecotourism venture, based on Kerehikapa Island within the ACMP. 

Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups

This approach is centred on the involvement of women in conservation through the creation of the KAWAKI Women’s Network. The local communities have been involved in the conservation of the Arnavon Islands for over 20 years, yet before the initiative began many of the women involved had never even visited them, as the role had largely been filled by men. This stems from long standing beliefs about the roles of gender on the Solomon Islands, with men seen as the decision makers and leaders, and women the caretakers of the home and family. 

The Nature Conservancy hopes that by including women in conservation efforts, and by giving them access to decision making roles within the community, they can increase gender equity on the islands. 

The strategy

Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship

Tourism

Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardship

Improving education and awareness

Organisers, donors and partners

Grant funding received from the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Environment. 

For further information contact (peoplenotpoaching@gmail.com).