When I first applied for the position of Conservation Officer at the Conflict Islands, I was a little apprehensive. Spending 6 months by myself in a remote area of Papua New Guinea? This could either be really great or really bad!
Luckily it has been amazing! So amazing that I am extending my work visa for another 3 years!
When I first arrived at the Conflict Islands in November 2016, I was blown away by how beautiful it is. The islands are covered by dense rain forests, full of the sound of birds and surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches. Absolute Paradise!
My role as Conservation Officer was to set up a turtle conservation project on the Conflict Islands. There had been some previous attempts at conservation here, but none of them lasted. Setting up a conservation project from scratch in such a remote area was very daunting and exciting at the same time.
As soon as I arrived on the island I got to work brainstorming ideas for conservation. The main issue facing turtle conservation at the Conflict Islands is turtle hunting and egg poaching by neighbouring island groups. Our first plan was to set up a turtle hatchery on the main island ‘Panasesa’. Eggs laid on other islands, at high risk of being poached, would be bought over to the safety of our turtle hatchery. After my first week on the island our turtle hatchery was built and the first eggs were relocated and buried in our hatchery a week later.
The local staff on the island have been amazingly helpful with the hatchery set up and egg collection. I couldn’t have done it without them!