Sea Turtle Conservation Project — Lebanon (2007)

In a country where recent war has complicated daily life, Mona Khalil has been successful in creating the Sea Turtle Conservation project in south Lebanon. The program raises awareness and helps to protect the sea turtle nesting beach of El Mansouri–El Koliala. Mona’s 2007 SWOT outreach project was targeted at volunteers on the beach. Initially, students from other regions of the country were enlisted to help protect the nesting beaches, but because of the recent war, they were unable to take part. Tourists on seaside holidays and soldiers stationed on the beach, however, were available and willing to lend a hand in monitoring and cleaning up the beach. Local teachers began to disseminate conservation information from source such as SWOT Report, Vol. II—which featured an article by Khalil about El Mansouri–El Koliala—to their students and communities, raising awareness about the importance of protecting the nesting beach. Several groups of special needs children were also given the opportunity to assist in the release of sea turtle hatchlings. Despite rigorous challenges, Khalil’s relentless effort has increased the conservation consciousness of nearby communities, government authorities, and foreign visitors, mitigating the hazards to turtles in their nesting habitat.