As with many grassroots programs in developing regions, the Corcovado Foundation Sea Turtle Conservation Program is only made possible by the hard work and determination of local people, the contribution of time, money and effort by volunteers, and the extraordinary generosity of individuals like yourselves who selflessly donate money to the cause. The turtles and the local community of Drake Bay, Costa Rica, would like to express their sincere gratitude for all of your help in 2011!
Thanks to your donation the program was able to create more contracted shifts for local people this year, and five more members of the local conservationist association (ACOTPRO) were trained as Patrol Leaders, bringing the total number employed to an all-time high of 20. The program was also able to allocate more resources to promote the ‘Turtle Tour’, a special eco-tour for tourists staying in Drake Bay that includes a visit to the hatchery and a chance to find a nesting turtle or witness the liberation of hatchlings. This tour provides regular income for local Patrol Leaders acting as guides, and thanks to the extra promotion 2011 witnessed a big increase in the number of tourists coming on the tour. As the most promising ecotourism initiative associated with the program, the income from the tour is intimately linked to the survival of the turtles, and as such it helps to incentivize the conservation effort and provides a reliable source of income for ACOTPRO. Another by-product of the tour has been a massive improvement in the quality of English spoken by local leaders this year, at least five of whom now speak sufficient English to lead the tour unaided.
Your donation also helped to support the team of biologists at the program, and permitted the recruitment of an extra research assistant in 2011. The expansion of the team had many positive outcomes, including the appointment of a dedicated environmental educator to assist with the incorporation of environmental education into the curriculum of local schools. The program was able to maintain two new out-of-school groups throughout the season, the ‘Pumas of El Progreso’ and the ‘Eagles (Águilas) of Los Ángeles, both of which put together fantastic performances at the 2011 Turtle Festival, which took place in November in Drake Bay.
The extra manpower also produced great results for the turtle conservation program, with a record 106 nests relocated to the hatchery – the largest ever built at the program – and an all-time low 5.0% incidence of poaching. Moreover, for the first time ever the team sighted over 50% of the 187 turtles that crawled from the sea to lay nests on Drake Beach, and by the end of the season the team had liberated over 7000 hatchlings, with many more still due to emerge from nests relocated to the beach.
As we enter 2012, however, the program faces its most uncertain year yet financially, and so private donations will prove to be more crucial than ever this season. A major emphasis is being placed upon the need for the program to become more self-sufficient, and as such the Turtle Tour and Turtle Adoption initiatives will be further developed and heavily promoted. Next month’s article will explain how the latter will work, and direct you to a link where you can adopt and provide lasting protection for your very own endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle. In the meantime though, the program urgently needs money to replace essential field equipment and to build a budget to be able to commence the season, without which the fate of the turtles of Drake Bay hangs in the balance. Please dig deep this year and support grassroots initiatives such as the Corcovado Foundation Sea Turtle Conservation Program, and help the community in Drake Bay to build an ethically-sound economy that generates sustainable income through the non-consumptive use of sea turtles.
Thank you, and may we wish you a happy and properous new year!
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