With an increasing number of factors affecting the health of the world’s marine resources, and experts predicting the collapse of global fisheries by 2048, &Beyond is expanding its focus on wildlife conservation to include the protection and sustainability of our seas with Oceans Without Borders – a call to preserving our marine eco-systems.
Building on the positive influence it extends over more than 9 million acres of protected wildlife land, &Beyond has recently increased its portfolio of exclusive island lodges to now encompass, &Beyond Mnemba Island, off the coast of Zanzibar, &Beyond Benguerra Island, in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago and &Beyond Vamizi Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago. All of these incredible destinations are situated within protected marine areas and boast a strong conservation focus.
Why has &Beyond founded Oceans Without Borders?
By connecting these three destinations, Oceans Without Borders will play a significant role in the conservation of 2 000 kilometres (1 243 miles) of wild African coastline.
- Care of the oceans falls within &Beyond’s core ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. This three-pronged approached has helped us achieve exceptional results with our conservation projects on land and we are confident it will help us attain the same successes in terms of marine conservation.
- The success of our land-based conservation model has involved focussing on communities and their development as a strategy to ensure their buy-in for conservation and to mitigate their potential impact on the environment. Once community relationships have been established, we have been able to carry out focussed research projects on the reserves.
- Thanks to the success of this proven model, we have decided to implement a similar approach for marine conservation. &Beyond has engaged with the local fishing communities living near each of our island lodges in the belief that it essential for us to understand these people, whose livelihoods are largely dependent on the ocean.
- With three island lodges in our portfolio, marine conservation can now receive the same focus as land-based conservation projects.
- &Beyond Mnemba Island, &Beyond Benguerra Island and &Beyond Vamizi Island are all situated within protected marine areas and boast a strong conservation focus. By connecting these three destinations, Oceans Without Borders will play a significant role in the conservation of 2 000 kilometres (1 243 miles) of wild African coastline.
Oceans Without Borders Focus Areas
&Beyond has always believed that the land (or oceans), the people and the animals are inextricably intertwined. Just as ecotourism and the conservation of resources are vital for the future and prosperity of their people, so the support of those people is critical to protecting threatened ecosystems, endangered species and the precious biodiversity of the land and the oceans. Our conservation projects on land have been so successful because they have involved the people who live near the conservation areas, giving them a stake in the preservation of these resources.
Ironically, the very communities that rely the most closely on marine resources often pose the biggest threat to those very same resources. For this reason, at all three of our island lodges, our most immediate focus will be on reducing the local communities’ dependence on the ocean and giving them a stake in the preservation of the marine world.
- Education is a strong focus at all three lodges, with local communities taught how to ensure the survival of fish resources in the surrounding reefs.
- Working with our community development partners, Africa Foundation and Friends of Vamizi, &Beyond focuses on small business development as an alternative source of income to fishing.
- By helping to create vegetable gardens and farms, we attempt to set up alternative food sources for local communities to lessen their dependence on marine resources.
Monitoring and Research
Even in areas where marine resources are currently protected, monitoring and research is crucial to set a baseline which can be referenced over time to identify any potential threats in order to understand their impact. This then allows steps to be taken to minimise this impact and mitigate the threats.
While each lodge and their applicable partners will run their own initiatives, a coordinated project will consolidate findings. Although research is performed at each destination, no comparisons have previously been undertaken.
WHAT ARE WE MONITORING?
- Coral reefs are a vital indicator of the health of the earth’s oceans and are increasingly threatened around the world.
- The reefs at each destination are currently monitored by various partners of Oceans Without Borders
- We are investigating the best means of monitoring whale migration routes at all three islands. As conditions differ vastly between the three destinations, the effectiveness of using whale sonar equipment at each island to identify whale pods by sound is being evaluated.
- We are also looking into using hydrophones to record whale songs to identify the movements of individuals.
- At the lodges where whales are frequently spotted, we can involve our guests in using photo identification to help track their movements.
- Turtle nesting is currently monitored at Vamizi and Mnemba.
- &Beyond Vamizi Island is home to the oldest and only ongoing turtle monitoring project in northern Mozambique, which is managed by one of the longest-standing turtle monitoring programmes in East Africa. A dedicated team of Conservation Monitors records data and tags the turtles with a unique number that allows their movements to be tracked.
- &Beyond Mnemba Island is the only protected nesting site for the endangered green turtle in Zanzibar and one of few in the whole of Tanzania. &Beyond staff monitor turtle nests, protecting the eggs, hatchlings and the mother, and share their data with research organisations, as well as the government of Zanzibar.
Our Impact: The Protection of Endangered Species
With climate change, pollution and habitat loss all putting an increased strain on the world’s marine species, &Beyond believes that it is now more important than ever to protect the marine life in the oceans that lie off our island lodges.
- &Beyond Mnemba Island is home to the Ader’s duiker, the rarest antelope species in Africa.
- The numbers of the antelope have more than quadrupled since the introduction of five duiker to Mnemba in 2005, with an estimated 35 duiker currently living on the island.
- &Beyond is collecting data to improve the breeding programme and to work out the best population size to ensure the long-term survival of the duiker and the health of the island.
- A breeding project for these endangered antelope is run at&Beyond Mnemba Island.
- More than 300 have since been translocated from Mnemba to create new or boost existing populations in other parks.
- The number of suni has been carefully monitored and reduced by means of translocation to ensure that it does not impact on the Ader’s duiker breeding project
- &BeyondMnemba Island is home to a small but stable population of these largest of land crabs.
- Very little is known about coconut crabs and the island was home to the first study on them to be conducted in Africa.
- &Beyond Benguerra Island is home to the only population of the endangered dugong along the east coast of Africa, about 250 animals.
- Law enforcement and research on the island is managed by ANAC, the National Parks authority.
- Fishing nets and community fishing pose the single greatest threat to the dugong. &Beyond’s strategy to counter this is to work with local communities on establishing alternative sources of food and livelihoods other than fishing, thereby reducing the use of the nets.
- We are working with the local communities and the Africa Foundation on identifying the needs of the community and creating solutions. Vegetable gardens are already being created to solve some of these issues and we are looking at finding alternative protein sources for the local people.
GREY REEF SHARKS
- &BeyondVamizi island is home to one of the very few congregations of grey reef sharks on the east coast of Africa.
- All the sharks in the congregation are mature females and it is likely this behaviour has to do with breeding.
- Vamizi is tagging the sharks and recording their movements to research this phenomenon.
- Purchase an Oceans Without Borders bracelet, available at all &Beyond Safari Shops, to contribute towards Conservation Lessons at one of &Beyond’s island lodges.
- Purchase an Oceans Without Borders turtle mascot, available at all &Beyond Safari Shops, to contribute towards monitoring and research projects at one of &Beyond’s island lodges.
- Go to the Friends of Vamizi conservation pages.