I recently spent two weeks in Mombasa, Kenya with Dr. Tim McClanahan, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society coral reefs program in East Africa. Tim and I (among many others) are working on a project examining the potential benefits of international collaboration for coral conservation in the Western Indian Ocean, so it was fantastic to see the conservation challenges in the area first-hand.
What became very clear to me is that conservation plans in Africa must be fine enough to capture local threats and challenges, and that broad scale planning alone is doomed to fail. I also spent some time running a GIS training workshop for the WCS staff, and ground-truthing coral reef habitat maps I am developing. Mombasa is a truly beautiful part of the world, and after spending months staring at satellite imagery of the area, it was great to see it in person.
Having only recently obtained my PADI scuba certification, I couldn’t wait to explore some tropical reefs, and Mombasa did not disappoint. I managed to squeeze in 6 dives with Tim, and it was easy to see how you could fall in love with the area and never leave! I managed to get up close and personal with a critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, and saw a plethora of other awesome marine life, including electric rays, stonefish, and giant groupers. All in all it was a great learning experience, and I can’t wait to get back to Africa for my next adventure.