Written by: Jahawi Bertolli
The Lamu Archipelago lies 2 degrees south of the equator along Kenya’s coast. The archipelago is a chain of islands separated from the mainland by a narrow channel bordered with dense mangrove forest and protected from the Indian Ocean by coral reefs and large sand dunes.
Lamu Island has been a port of call for travellers for centuries. The many historical sites are proof of the area’s long and rich history which, when combined with all the natural attraction of its tropical setting, culminated in Lamu being added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
For the last 22 years the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust (LaMCoT) has been working in the Lamu Archipelago. What started as a turtle conservation project has successfully grown to now encompass a patrolled community marine conservancy amongst other projects.
The core belief of LaMCoT is that it must be a community led organisation and therefore having the understanding and support from the local community is important to the continued success and future projects of the trust.
The below documentary aims to showcase the beauty of this unique archipelago and the great work the marine conservation trust has been doing, but also highlight what could be lost due to unchecked and unsustainable development and modernisation. Not only does this documentary cover what happens on land but it also dives underwater filming never before filmed reefs and marine ecosystems along with artisanal fishing practices.
The documentary looks at the various aspects of the trust and their work in the archipelago and also looks further at the cultural interaction between the people of the archipelago and their environment. The documentary was the first ever to film underwater throughout the archipelago and also delve into the mangrove forest where prawns and crab are caught.
These are areas that most of the local people have never seen so we felt it was important to be able to show them these things, to bring conservation education and give the local community a feeling of ownership, pride and responsibility over their environment.