RAPSL Awareness Raising Meeting in Tokeh Village

By Joseph Abraham Sesay

Communications Officer

Reptile and Amphibian Program Sierra Leone held an awareness raising workshop on Saturday 20th May 2023 in the coastal community of Tokeh along the Freetown peninsula.

The awareness meeting was a swift response by RAP-SL to address the killing of a sea turtle by a fisherman in the Tokeh beach community. RAPSL held the meeting in order to condemn the unlawful act and refresh the minds of the community people on the laws governing the protection of marine wildlife in Sierra Leone.

Making his opening statement after a round of introduction, the chairman of the event Mr. Edward Sesay, the head of Programs of Conservative Society Sierra Leone emphasized on the wise use and management of the environmental resources. He noted that they have been working with the coastal communities and beyond to ensure proper management and conservation of natural resources especially engendered species in the environment. Mr. Sesay reminded the community that if they do not take care of the environment and the species in their community there will be nothing to show to the children tomorrow. He warned that ignorance of the law is no excuse and admonished the community leaders to ensure killing endangered species never happens again.” It is your responsibility as a community to protect the natural resources you have. If you don’t protect them it will be depleted

The Founder and Managing Director Reptiles and Amphibian Program, Mr. Edward Aruna said he was sad to receive such news that someone from Tokeh community killed a sea turtle. Mr. Aruna said he was bothered by such action because for years the Peninsula Action Group for Environment (PAGE) formed by RAPSL has collaborated on actively engaging harbor masters and local headmen on the Fisheries Act and other laws to raise the awareness about the protection of marine wildlife and biodiversity. He emphasized that that action was wrong and the perpetrators did so at their own risks and encouraged the communities to abstain from such acts to avoid facing the law.  “We are not here to threaten anybody” he said, “but if you break the law the law will bite you and we will not be able to help you. But if you partner with us to protect the environment, we will work together to bring development into the community” he ended. Mr. Aruna did a presentation on the five species of sea turtle in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Abdulai Dauda, a senior staff of CSSL explained the laws protecting the environment such as the wild life act of 1972, Fisheries Act, National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Trust fund Act. He concluded by making a clarion call to everyone present to do their best to protect the environment.

Speaking on behalf of the Chief Director of the Ministry of Environment, Augustine Juana thanked the people for making time to attend the program and listen to what RAPSL and the partners have to say. Mr. Juana pointed out that they as a ministry are not present in this meeting to threaten anyone but to use the opportunity to dialogue with the people as to why it is important to work together in protecting the environment. He told the gathering that there are currently some tourists in the country who have good development plans for Tokeh but warned this people may return if they begin to get such news about the killing of protected species. “Managing and protecting the environment will attract tourist development in your community and you will be the first people to benefit” Mr. Juana ended

The National Protected Area Authority representative Samuel Ibrahim Kobba highlighted the activities that the NPAA is engaged in for environmental conservation.  He urged all to be on the safe side of the law and work with government to protect the environment. He said they will not relent to arrest anyone who is caught catching, killing or selling any marine or wildlife animal that is protected by law. He explained the mandate of the National Protected Area Authority and the relevance of marine turtles in the marine ecosystem.

The Headman of Tokeh village Alhaji James Slowe thanked RAPSL for organizing the meeting, He on behalf of the Tokeh community apologized to everyone for such an unfortunate act. He informed all present that he is known for supporting conservation work and the killing of a sea turtle in his community is a big dent on his reputation. Alhaji Slowe assured the gathering that fishermen will no longer capture the sea turtle at sea and bring them to Tokeh for sale. He warned the harbor masters to be vigilant and check all boats coming to Tokeh. Alhaji Slowe emphasized that never again will such news be heard about Tokeh community because he will not relent to continue to raise awareness and will not hesitate to hand over to the police anyone who kills any endangered marine species including the sea turtle.

The harbor masters from the different coastal communities around the Freetown Peninsula spoke in one accord that they will also join hands in this fight against illegal catch, killing and selling of sea turtles. They promised such sad event will not happen again.

The program ended with assurance from all stakeholders present that they will work together to protect the environment and police the beaches to ensure no endangered marine species is killed or captured. The harbor masters present promise to take the information to their communities and warn all fisher men about the existing laws protecting marine wildlife.

RAPSL distributed branded T-shirts of sea turtle conservation and calendars to everyone present climaxing the end of the meeting The Maritime Turtle Conservation project is sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top