REKAWA
 
  rekawa  
 
Rekawa is certainly the best-known on account of its importance as a turtle nesting site in Sri Lanka – so much so that nightly ‘turtle watches’ are held. The stretch of coastline at Rekawa is typically ‘southern’ and very unspoilt with crashing waves, a wide, shell-swept beach, and sand dunes.
A handful of villages surrounding Rekawa - such as Medilla, Medagama, Weheragala and Nidahasgama - are home to large areas of vital mangrove cover while Rekawa Lagoon, Kahandamodera Lagoon and Kunakalliya Lewaya see large amounts of birdlife passing through on migratory paths, especially pelicans. 

The Turtle Conservation Project (TCP), a local NGO, is very active in Rekawa. Since 1994, they have worked with the people of this low-income fishing village to educate them on conservation and environmental awareness. Initially set up to protect endangered sea turtles that use this beach as a nesting ground, TCP went on to inform and employ as nest protectors the very people who once poached turtle eggs. Today, these protectors take pride in earning a living as government-registered tour guides who patrol the beaches, safeguard the eggs from predators and entertain tourists on nightly tourist watches. 
 
By actively involving the community and making villagers aware from a young age about environmental awareness, TCP has made a huge difference to the survival of marine turtles in Rekawa. Similarly, through education and insight, TCP has shown villagers the damage they are doing to the natural environment - such as mangrove deforestation and the degradation of reefs through coral mining. (The latter is a process in which coral is mined then burned in mangrove-fuelled kilns to make lime for the construction industry.) By giving the villagers alternate income-generating initiatives, such as ornamental fish breeding, TCP hopes these practices will discontinue. As villagers generate income, it allows them to be self-sufficient, to use it for vital small-scale village development schemes such as school repairs. 
 
Scenic and picturesque, the greener, western part of RUK offers the visitor plenty to explore: wild beaches, rural villages fringed by paddy plantations and kitchen gardens, fields full of buffalo, Buddhist temples and of course, nightly turtle watches at Rekawa beach from 8.30pm! 
 
(Content Source: Travel Sri Lanka Magazine)

(Image Source : mysrilankaholidays.com)  
 
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