Monday, December 2, 2013

Meet the Christmas Island Conservationist

Ms. Ratita Bebe, Christmas Islands
By Shahani Mala, journalism student of Fiji National University

3 December 2013, Suva Fiji - Ms. Ratita Bebe's work with the Ministry of Environment, Land and Agriculture Development sees her live and work on Christmas Island or Kiritimati in Kiribati.

Ms Bebe is in Suva this week as a delegate to the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.

Christmas Island is home to about 6000 people and is a conservation area, with some parts of the island designated closed areas requiring permits to access.

It is also the breeding ground for 19 seabirds and endemic species known as Bokikokiko (Christmas Warbler).

Ms Bebe says the highlight of her work is when she is out in the field working, monitoring birds and turtles, including eradication and control activities on feral cats and rats.

Ms Bebe says: "This will be one of the productive conferences because everyone here came to work together in sharing experiences, ideas, and how we can move forward to continue our duty of safeguarding our island biodiversity for the benefit of our people so we can have healthy islands and healthy people."

"Conservation is important because first of all as islanders we are dependent on our resource. It doesn't matter whether you are from a small country or a big country, we all dependent on our resources, starting from land to sea. So it is really important to manage and sustain resources," said Ms Bebe

"My expectation is to learn and share experiences during this conference on related matters that will assist me, especially on common issues with participants of this important Conference when I go back home," Ms Bebe added.

She said as islanders, "we need to work together to maintain our network and assist one another so we continue living on our healthy islands and ocean".

Shahani Mala is a first year student at Fiji National University and a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).

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