After years of devoting one’s time to work, pursuing a hobby would seem like a good way to spend your time.
For others, it may be traveling, gardening, or even photography but for a former accountant hailing from Watamu, saving turtles is how he chooses to pass time.
Fikiri Kiponda has taken a different path by devoting time to help the endangered turtle species facing threats along Kenyaâ€™s Indian Ocean coastline.
The 44-year-old operates by receiving phone calls from fishermen who call on him to rescue the turtles. The turtles are facing danger from pollution and pathogens.
In addition to that, Some of the turtles end up being trapped in the nets of the fishermen resulting in injuries.
This is a complete turnaround from his previous profession, where he had to ensure that the accounts were balanced.
â€œThe moment I tag a healthy turtle and release it back to the ocean where it is supposed to be, the feeling is just overwhelming,â€ Kiponda stated.
Kiponda is part of local conservationists liaising with communities to preserve the coastal ecosystem such as mangrove wetlands, sand beaches, and the rich marine diversity the country holds.
Additionally, Kenya has five different species of marine turtles that have been recognized as endangered by the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.
The turtle species are; the green turtle, leatherback turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, and olive ridley turtle.
The ex-accountant ensures that the community understands the importance of marine conservations like turtles rather than the cultural perceptions they held previously.
The community harbored thoughts like taking the turtles’ shells as trophies, traditional medicines, or using them as jewelry, but this has changed through community participation.
This participation has seen over 350 Watamu fishermen contribute to the local conservancy efforts, a grassroots solution the ex-accountant is proud of.