Thursday, 19 February 2015 -- After 5 years of patiently waiting, the St Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network have received the “OK” to construct a new home. In a letter from Ms. Beverly Harris, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the St Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) were advised that permission had been granted for the lease of land behind the Keys-Cayon Beach.
“We are so excited that our hopes are finally coming to fruition” said Dr. Kimberly Stewart, Director SKSTMN. “This is such an important conservation area and not just for nesting turtles. The UNESCO initiative for the Man in the Biosphere project has also officially recognised the significance of the bio-diversity found here” she explained.
“We have designed a low-key eco-friendly interpretive centre in response to increasing interest from both tourists and local people. This will provide a central base from where we can conduct research, eco-tourism and educational outreach. If we can raise enough finance, we have plans eventually to have tanks with permanent displays which will also give us the opportunity to rehabilitate injured animals.
Currently our main focus has been scientific research but we run tours which attract up to 300 visitors a year. One of our biggest challenges – and I mean that quite literally - is that our leatherback turtles, the stars of the show, can weigh up to a ton and are nocturnal so we need some shelter for those who come on patrol hoping for a glimpse of these awe inspiring animals!
It also means we can increase our local team of employees, currently headed by Mr. Theophilus Taylor, to help us cater for our increase in visitors.
Commenting on the initial plans, licensed land surveyor, Mr. Dwight Francis joked that it was the first time his client was not land based and weighed more than his entire family! “I am very pleased to be helping this non-governmental organisation (NGO) and I look forward to its future success.”
Dr. Stewart concluded “Although we have waited a long time to get this far, we are so heartened by the encouragement people have given us. In particular, Ms. Beverly Harris, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Mr Cosbert Manchester, the Executive Director from of the St Christopher National Trust who have been especially supportive.
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