- Title: Conservationists strive to protect Lebanon's sea turtles
- Date: 28th July 2017
- Summary: EL-MANSOURI, LEBANON (JULY 27, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF GROUP OF PEOPLE AND CHILDREN WALKING TOWARDS BEACH AREA TO RELEASE NEWLY HATCHED SEA TURTLES INTO THE SEA BABY SEA TURTLES BEING CARRIED IN A BUCKET VARIOUS OF GROUP OF CHILDREN AND YOUTHS WALKING TOWARDS THE SEA ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST MONA KHALIL RELEASING BABY TURTLES TURTLES CRAWLING (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, MONA KHALIL, SAYING: "In the year 2000, the south was liberated, it took me two days to pack and come to this house and start repairing and started my real life. The other life that I was living, it was just living but now I am living my life, what I like to do, what makes me feel strong, what makes me feel good, this. Protecting mother nature." VARIOUS OF TURTLES HEADING TOWARDS THE WATER AFTER BEING RELEASED TURTLE REACHING WATER (SOUNDBITE) (English and Arabic) LEBANESE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, MONA KHALIL, SAYING: "'This is a unique place. This is the last virgin sea in Lebanon. Full stop. There is nothing like it. (REPORTER ASKING: "And if it doesn't exist anymore, what will happen?'')â€It will be like the rest of the reserve area in Sour, it will be beach shacks and kiosks and cafes and it will be a total mess. It will all be ruined.'' PEOPLE STANDING ON BEACH WATCHING TURTLES VIEW OF BEACH BUILDINGS BEING CONSTRUCTED NEAR THE STRETCH OF BEACH WHICH KHALIL SAYS WILL THREATEN THE TURTLES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIVERSITY TEACHER, FATEN CHALHOUB, 34, SAYING: "'It was a big surprise for me a few years ago, I didn't know we had sea turtles that came to this beach to lay their eggs here in Mansouri and that they were endangered. And I didn't know that someone like Mona existed, someone who dedicates their life and time to this cause and is an extraordinary activist, not just a normal one. And when I saw them for the first time it brought me great happiness, I loved them. I fell in love." VARIOUS OF TURTLES REACHING WATER PEOPLE AT THE BEACH WATCHING THE TURTLES KHALIL HELPING TURTLES THAT HAVE FLIPPED ON THEIR BACKS WOMAN USING MOBILE PHONE TO FILM TURTLES CRAWLING BABY TURTLES AT WATER'S EDGE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DOCTOR BASSAM CHALHOUB, SAYING: "We can protect them through my daughter and my niece by teaching them from early on to protect these species. By the way, this might be the last time my children see these turtles here. There is a big chance that when these turtles grow up, we might not see them here anymore. The nests won't exist, the whole area will become urbanised and full of tourist resorts and this whole natural life will disappear." VARIOUS OF TURTLES HEADING FOR WATER WOMAN TAKING PHOTO TURTLE GOING INTO WATER (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, MONA KHALIL, SAYING: "(Reporter asking: These turtles are endangered right?) KHALIL NODDING AND SAYING: Until now I have not lost hope. Hopefully things will. (REPORTER ASKING: "You think you will fight it?") "I fought for 17 years, so why not, 18, 19, 20 more. As long as God gives me life, I am a fighter." CLOSE OF KHALIL'S NECKLACE VARIOUS OF SEA VARIOUS OF KHALIL'S DOG GUARDING THE BEACH WATER LAPPING ON SHORE
- Embargoed: 11th August 2017 15:46
- Keywords: turtle conservation protecting Lebanon's nature sea turtles endangered species wildlife activism
- Location: EL-MANSOURI, LEBANON
- City: EL-MANSOURI, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RMU6VB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: On Lebanon's beaches, endangered sea turtles have a human ally to help them in the face of myriad threats.
Mona Khalil, 77, founded The Orange House Project in 2000 to protect sea turtles on the south Lebanon beach in el Mansouri from predators, pollution and encroaching people.
With sea turtles returning to the same beach where they were born to lay their eggs, Khalil relocates nests threatened by agriculture and installs metal grids to protect them from predators.
She also raises the eggs by hand at the group's facility and released the first of this year's baby turtles earlier this month. Every time there are new hatchings and turtles released she invites groups of families and school children to watch.
"I didn't know we had sea turtles who came to this beach here to lay their eggs here," teacher Faten Chalhoub, 34, who was there with her nieces told Reuters.
"When I saw them for the first time it brought me great happiness, I loved them. I fell in love," she added.
There are some in the town who feel differently about Khalil's work. Her activism was responsible for banning dynamite fishing in the area, which resulted in her house being shot at and attempts to burn her farm down.
There are two species of sea turtle that breed in Lebanon: the green turtle, which is an endangered species, and the loggerhead turtle, which is classed as a vulnerable species.
The exact number of turtles in the eastern Mediterranean is uncertain. An estimate cited by the World Wildlife Fund suggested that there were 60,000 nesting female loggerhead turtles worldwide.
Khalil said she was determined to carry on with her work, despite any hostility: "I fought for 17 years, so why not, 18, 19, 20 more. As long as God gives me life, I am a fighter."
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