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Tetepare Island Rangers and WWF Coral Reef Research, Western Province, Solomon Islands

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10 – 14 July 2010

S8 43.279 E157 26.611 – Tetepare Island

Mystery shrouded Tetepare IslandMystery shrouds Tetepare Island with its rainforest getting its fair share of rain

Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific where a tiny portion of its massive land is a dedicated research field station and a cooperative ecolodge run by the Tetepare Descendants’ Association or TDA.  Many stories circulate why Tetepare Island (Tetepare meaning wild boar) has remained uninhabited for more than 150 years. One story is because of contagious dysentery, a disease that wiped out majority of its population more than a century ago. Another is its people fled in fear because of the threat of headhunting. Or the story of a Sea-Devil’s curse that brought black magic leading to a great famine in the island. Another story is an underwater volcano close to the island erupted and poisonous gases scared the original inhabitants away. For whatever historical reasons it may be, Tetepare has remained untouched resulting to having 120 square kilometres of primary lowland rainforest in a country which has lost a lot of its forests to commercial logging.

Towering fig trees in the dense forest of TetepareTowering fig trees in the dense forest of Tetepare We also think this place has remained uninhabited because it is a pretty wild place. The waves smash into the coast making pretty cool pictures!We also think this island has remained uninhabited because it is a pretty wild place. The waves smash into the coast making pretty cool pictures but very difficult landing platforms!

We went around this massive island with two on duty Tetepare Rangers and Tingo Leve of WWF Solomon Islands. We left the station at 9am and came back by late afternoon! Yes, it was massive.

WWF's Tingo Leve expertly drove the boat with our Tetepare Rangers showing us the different points of interest around the island from leatherback, green & hawksbill nesting areas to rivers where crocodiles hide.  WWF's Tingo Leve expertly drove the boat with our Tetepare Rangers showing us the different points of interest around the island from leatherback, green & hawksbill nesting areas to rivers where crocodiles hide

The TDA has permanently closed a 13km stretch of Tetepare’s reefs, lagoons and coastal waters and established an MPA. They called it the Tetepare Marine Protected Area. This no-take zone includes the land from the low water mark to 500m inland. Dolphins, dugongs and crocodiles are known to roam different parts of this island’s rich waters while land reptiles like snakes and monitor lizards, birds, bats and of course, wild boar inhabit the land’s thick forest area.

While we were there, six young teenagers paddled their dugout canoe in the wild waters of Tetepare. They came from the neighbouring Rendova Island and went beyond the no take zone to go camping and hunting for wild boar. They had four dogs to help them hunt in the forest. After three days, and three wild boars later, they paddled their way back home. It was a long way back and the waves were big and the winds merciless. Their canoe flipped over and they lost two pigs and a dog which swam to shore. They were met by the rangers and still in good spirits amidst their near death experience, they gave the rangers some wild boar meat which we got to eat for dinner!

Marine Protected Area of Tetepare stretches 13 kilometers from this pointMarine Protected Area of Tetepare stretches 13 kilometers from this point

Tingo, who does the Reef Check for WWF told us of a transect dive he did in Tetepare’s reefs.  Noisy dolphins swam around him underwater during the entire dive preventing him from doing his job properly! When we reached the dolphin area where he did his reef survey, the waters were too choppy and there was no chance of us diving there. But, we found the big pod of dolphins!

Spinner dolphins were happy to see our boat to bow ride again and again. They were not close to the reef though for us to go diving with themSpinner dolphins were happy to see our boat to bow ride again and again. They were not close to the reef though for us to go diving with them

We were able to see Tingo do his underwater reef monitoring work.

WWF SI's Tingo Lele & Bill Apusae prepare the dive and research gear for a transect activity in the quiet part of Tetepare lagoonWWF SI's Tingo Leve & Bill Apusae prepare the dive and research gear for an underwater transect activity in the quiet part of Tetepare lagoon For many years, Tingo has done annual surveys of Tetepare's reefs for WWFFor many years, Tingo has done annual surveys of Tetepare's reefs for WWF Solomon Islands' Melanesia Programme Almost all around Tetepare Island, where the forest ends, the reef begins!Almost all around Tetepare Island, where the forest ends, the reef begins!

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Comments


  • Lisa Sam

    I am a second year student taking up marine biology at the University of Papua New Guinea and is very much interested in workin with you even as a volinteer during the semester break. This is to help broarden my knowledge and skills in the feild that i am very much interested in. Please may you kindly reply to my request using the email adress above.

    thank you.
    Lisa Sam

  • http://manilatourpackage.blogspot.com macpage

    photos are really nice. Interesting.

  • http://www.gmai.com Wendy

    This island is so pristine..Keep it up people…these are the kind of things we should be doing and discouraging the logging activities in the Solomons…Is there a possibility of student volunteers needed to part take in the conservation activities on the island..This will give most of the students studying in environment and marine studies to get an opportunity to actually do fieldwork for future careers…Thanks.

  • charlyn

    Lots of thanks to the people of Tetepare and those who really concern about the ecosystem,biodiversity and the natural resources. This is one of the good example for the country to sustain the depleting marine resources for future generations. Students and volunteers should be encourage to undertake conservation activities. once again thanks Tetepare to become one of the conservation islands of the country.

  • http://N/A Greg Tai’eha

    Excellent work! Please keep it up to get going.

  • Hila

    A biogeography institute should be established in Tetepare. it is something to do with the national goverment to realize the resources of the country and push forward for clean and better future.

  • http://USPWeb sylvester Bola

    Lots of thanks to the of Tetepari for being so wise to make good decision that is very obvious in the country. Pliz keep the place well for future generation to see the native plants and animals that are now started to become rare in country,,,, cheers ,,,,,great work for our betterment.