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Oct 16, 2018

Status Update on the Ridgway's Hawk Conservation Program.

Testing the effectiveness of an entomopathogenic.
Testing the effectiveness of an entomopathogenic.

Breeding season has not yet arrived for the Ridgway’s Hawks – there are still a few months to go before they begin courtship and nest-building in preparation for raising a new generation of young hawks. As we wait for breeding season to begin, we continue to carry out monthly surveys in Punta Cana and Los Haitises National Park in order to assess where most of the hawks are and their health status. We spend a lot of time in each pair’s territory, documenting their presence or absence and recording any interesting behavior we are lucky enough to observe. So far, all hawks are present and accounted for, which is great news!

At the Grupo Puntacana Foundation we held a 3-day workshop for 16 teachers and locals from different areas of the Dominican Republic. Over these three days, participants learned about Ridgway’s Hawks, their importance as birds of prey and role they play in ecosystems, as well as different techniques they can use to transmit the conservation message and information in their local communities.

During the last three months, we have been rearing Philornis flies (a parasite fly that affects the population of Ridgway Hawks and other types of birds) in the lab to learn more about their life cycle. We have been able to keep them alive for over 3 months and those flies were used for in-lab experiments intended to find mid-term control methods. 

We are testing different organic repellents in a choice arena, where adult flies choose between two entry points baited with food: with or without a repellent.  We have been conducting trials with Tobacco and Neem. We are also testing the effectiveness of an entomopathogenic fungus, Beauveria bassiana, against Philornis larvae.

Finally, we are placing traps with papaya juice to trap wild Philornis adults in the field and to have a better idea of the population’s abundance.

Musca domestica killed by Beauveria bassiana.
Musca domestica killed by Beauveria bassiana.
Trio of Ridgway
Trio of Ridgway's Hawks
Male Ridgway
Male Ridgway's Hawk
Oct 9, 2018

Fishermen Efforts as Coral Gardeners are Showing Results!

Since the start of the program, we have hired 2 fishermen to serve as coral gardeners. These fishermen have been working on restoring staghorn coral populations along the Punta Cana coral reef.

In August 2018, the foundation hired a fisherman to serve as a boat captain for the coral gardeners. This fisherman was hired because of his Pleasure Craft Operational Certification that he obtained through the Dominican Navy, which allows them to handle vessels of up to 46’ in length. This training was made possible by generous donations like yours.

One more fisherman is schedule to start working as a coral gardener during the first week of October, completing the team of coral gardeners proposed in this project.

In April, when the fishermen started work, they were able to transplant 112 linear meters of staghorn coral back onto natural reefs. To date, the two fishermen working have transplanted over 734 meters of coral tissue using coral fragments from the foundations staghorn in-water coral nursery. Every transplant site contains at least 3 different genetic material ensuring that the corals have all they need to promote a natural reproduction.

The foundation, continues to explore ways in which it can facilitate transplantation efforts. As a result, the foundation is building a new 22ft boat to help the fishermen increase their restoration efforts.

We hope to achieve 1,000 meters of linear tissue transplanted back onto the local reefs by the end of November 2018!

Boat for Coral Gardeners transportation
Boat for Coral Gardeners transportation
Boat for Coral Gardeners transportation (photo #2)
Boat for Coral Gardeners transportation (photo #2)
Sep 10, 2018


Veranitos 2018 at the Ann & Ted Kheel Polytechnic
Veranitos 2018 at the Ann & Ted Kheel Polytechnic

Dear donor, may you receive a warm greeting. Without a doubt, your contribution to this project plays a key role in achieving the educational dreams of hundreds of young people from the vulnerable communities of the tourist destination of Punta Cana.

We remain focused on getting better life conditions for the students and all of the members of the Ann & Ted Kheel Polytechnic School in the community of Veron, through the improvement of this educational center.

Your support has made a great difference in this process !.

We are involved in the developing stages of our project.

We are delighted to inform to you about the recent achievements:   

  • We have continued the implementation of the Voluntary Military Service program together with the Security Department of Grupo Puntacana company and the Ministry of National Defense (as we mentioned in the past, it consists on training programs in human values directed to the students to turn them into men and women at the service of the country and its development) so that in the last June the 3rd graduation ceremony took place, in which 40 students were graduated.
  •  In the last June we held the 13th graduation ceremony, in which 80 students were graduated. To date 866 young people belonging to low-income families have graduated (high school plus technical skills).
  • The school staff took advantage of the summer vacation to elaborate the calendar of the training activities for the teachers and the co-curricular activities for the students, among others. After an evaluation of the technicians, the maintenance labors of the facilities were accomplished ( outdoor painting, land scape, among others). 
  • 5 students participated for a month in the summer internship ”Veranitos” at Grupo Puntacana company, it is a wonderful vocational program that supports the future generation of professionals on their way to success.
  • In the last August the Biology, Physics and Chemistry teacher participated for two days in the "Cientifica-Mente" training session in charge of the Vice-Presidency of the DR, in the capital city, which seeks to improve the skills of the teachers through the scientific thinking and experimentation.
  • Counting on the company ETC-Iberoamerica as supplier, we are preparing the next phase of the Microsoft certification program for the benefit of the students, so that we have already purchased the 2016 Microsoft Office software to be installed in the computer lab of the school.
  • 29 students out of 55 who took part in the National Evaluation Program run by the Ministry of Education ranked among the best 10% of the country. One of them was within the best 2%. We are very proud about it !

 Please see the 4 pictures attached to this report. In the upcoming months we will keep you updated on the progress of our project.

If you have any comment, advice or question, please let us know and we will respond as best we can.

 Thank you very much again for your support, we really appreciate it !

 Best wishes !

2018 Military Service Program Graduation
2018 Military Service Program Graduation
13th Graduation Ceremony
13th Graduation Ceremony
Biology/Physics/Chemistry teacher at the training
Biology/Physics/Chemistry teacher at the training
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