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Back in April, Serena Hotels properties Serena Beach Resort & Spa (SBRS) in Mombasa and the Nairobi Serena Hotel partnered with Ocean Sole in this year’s Earth Day to raise awareness on environmental conservation. Ocean Sole and Serena Hotels share a common goal to build awareness on the conservation of sea turtles and butterflies, beach pollution and waste management, and as such working together provides a perfect example of the ways stakeholders can help hotels achieve their aims as responsible businesses.
Ocean Sole is a marine wildlife organisation that recycles old flip flops – or ”pati patis” as they are commonly known in East Africa - that have been washed along the coast, and turn them into beautiful animal models such as elephants, giraffes, octopuses, sea turtles, butterflies and lions.
Information booths at the Serena properties exhibited products created by Ocean Sole that help educate guests and the local community on environmental challenges. These included a 2m tall octopus made entirely out of recycled flip-flops and other materials, unveiled at the Nairobi Serena Hotel before travelling to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) grounds. Guests and staff had the opportunity to view the process of creating Ocean Sole products, and also to bring old pati patis to collection points set up at the two properties.
Serena Hotels is working to take its environmental conservation efforts to the next level through continuing to build awareness and making an impact on its surrounding communities and habitats.
The group has been participating in sea turtle conservation for over 20 years. The property in Mombasa initiated the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in 1993. The programme founded when marine ecological reports indicated that turtles faced extinction due to nest losses as a result of tidal flooding, predators and human activities over the next 50 years. This necessitated the CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) to list the sea turtles that SBRS conserve in the region as critically endangered; the Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles.
Today, SBRS protects sea turtle nests at various sites across Mombasa through protective cages and incubation, while encouraging beach operators, fishermen, and the local community to do so as well. Furthermore, SBRS personnel assist turtle hatchlings on property to make it successfully to the Ocean, while using this opportunity to educate hotel guests about sea turtle conservation. In addition, awareness is built through hosting weekly lectures at the hotel to discuss the importance of sea turtle conservation.
SBRS also established a Butterfly Conservation Project at its premises in 2003. This decision was taken under the backdrop that butterflies have a unique role in the environment, pollinating wild flowering plants as they feed on nectar, but also enhancing the biodiversity by maintaining ecological balance. Butterflies are a key indicator in the assessment of the health of the surrounding forest, as they feed on a particular food plant. The absence of a certain species of butterfly may indicate the depletion of a particular forest component. A Butterfly Conservation Sanctuary was built within the SBRS property, where they breed and re-introduce indigenous butterfly species to the coastal landscape. Within the Butterfly Sanctuary, separate enclosures of a butterfly display house, pupa and egg display, egg and caterpillar hatchery and female unit are provided.
Working with stakeholders to improve their socio and environmental performance is just part of the portfolio of responsible business actions the hotel group takes. Each Serena property is designed to complement its environment, while nurturing the landscape, culture and community that surrounds it. The Serena Group is a key player in East African eco-awareness and eco-policy implementation insisting upon eco-complementary architecture; the use of local materials, skills and labour; waste recycling; pollution-reduction and non-CFC use; solar and wind generation, low energy-use devices and heat recovery systems.