I had served as a JICA volunteer for the Koror State Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement (DCLE), which manages the World Heritage of the Rock Island Southern Lagoon (RISL) in the Republic of Palau, from January 2017 to January 2019.
My main assignments were to begin long-term ecological monitoring projects in RISL and to build its database as well as to give instructions to DCLE staff on those matters.
In the beginning, I was confused by the cultural difference between Palau and Japan, but by working closely with DCLE staff and local experts, we have successfully launched our monitoring projects, such as for birds and sea turtles, in RISL.
We started the monthly bird monitoring project in RISL in October 2017. By the end of November 2018, we collected 635 datasheets consisting of 7,927 records and 41 bird species.
Through the project, we recorded the Blue-and-white Flycatcher as the first record in Palau (and maybe the first record in Micronesia) as well as the White-breasted Woodswallow, whose ecology in Palau has not been well known.
Furthermore, our monitoring project report became one of the supporting materials for the Palau Ground-Dove’s category change under the IUCN Red List from NT (Near Threatened) to EN (Endangered) in 2018.
The sea turtle monitoring project in RISL started in January 2018. We found 70 nests by July 2018, but 46 % of them had been poached; monitoring data after August 2018 have not been analyzed yet. I respect Palauan culture, and I also like to eat turtle in the traditional way—freetada is yummy! However, I believe following rules (e.g., not taking turtles’ eggs) is important to keep Palau as a home for sea turtles and the Palauan culture sustainable.
Continuity is one of the most important things for an ecological monitoring project. I believe that long-term objective data always supports policymakers in making better decisions for the future. I hope that the DCLE’s ecological monitoring projects will continue for a long time.
Lastly, I was so lucky to be able to work in such a beautiful country for two years. I appreciate everyone who supported me in Palau. Thank you very much and I hope to see you again!
- Daisuke Horii