Tiwai Island is home to the extremely rare and elusive pygmy hippopotamus and a site of enormous tourism potential but on the 2nd October 2015, Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding areas were hit by a massive Tornado/Storm destroying large parts of the Sanctuary.
EFA’s Tommy Garnet: “It was the strongest and most destructive storm experienced ever, during our 15 years of working on the island.” Thankfully, there were no injuries.
The intensity of the storm led to the uprooting of several trees on the island, including on a number of the structures. As a result there was extensive and serious damage to all the facilities at the Tiwai tourist/visitor centre, particularly the main reception and meeting hall, tent platforms, kitchen, electrical wirings, plumbing and other utilities.
“Anyone wanting to help can contribute cash, materials – mainly aluminium sheets, cement, iron rods, plumbing, and electrical materials, etc. We would also appreciate technical support from qualified builders, who wish to volunteer”.
The island communities were not spared during the Ebola crisis according to Tommy Garnett. “Survival during the past 18 months has been tough for the communities, but same can be said for everyone in SL. At the height of the Ebola epidemic, we mobilized some food for all the communities and made sure we kept staff on the island to maintain a presence, and keep the place from getting bushy. With no income to the island, there is understanding on the part of the people that we cannot give them any money this year. However we have tried to install solar lighting in all the Tiwai communities during the past year, so they can continue to associate Tiwai Island as a source of positive developments for the communities.”
With the end of Ebola and many tourism players looking forward to a brighter future, this disaster hits at the worst possible time. There is an urgent need to chop the fallen trees, do a massive clean-up and commence reconstruction.
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