A lot of what goes into making the Cofan-run park guard program successful is the day-to-day, unglamourous, administrative work. For instance, the Cofan Survival Fund has a full-time lawyer who maintains the pressure on the Environmental Ministrey to disburse "Socio-Bosque" funds to the Cofan Federation and maintain this important program. Socio Bosque is a national carbon credit program for conserving forest in Ecuador. The lawyer, Freddy, also helps the members of the Cofan Federation keep all their paperwork legal in order to receive these funds, and makes sure that communities are using a portion of the funds for conservation efforts.
All this effort pays off when one can see a beautiful Harpy eagle like the one shown in the photo on the Zabalo river, which is protected by the Cofan park guards.
In December, 16 new women and men park rangers from the province of Carchi in Northern Ecuador will be trained to patrol and conserve that section of Cofan terrioritory. Most of the training will be financed by Ecuadorian provincial governments, but the funds raised thus far through Global Giving have helped to pay expenses associated with organizing the course. The course is geared to working with men and women who already have a very solid background in the region- so things like survival training, camping skills, and general abilities to work are not in question. Rather, we emphasize skills such as organization of logistics, health and nutrition, first aid, environmental law, GPS and map-reading skills, ecological monitoring, situation control, and law enforcement mechanisms. Our trainees (we have over 120 graduates working around the country) almost never carry arms, so things like how to handle dicey situations become very important!
In August, all the men and 8 of the women of the Cofán community of Zabalo joined together to make the arduous full day canoe journey to the eastern boundary of their territory along the Peruvian border. The low water allowed for sightings of the endangered black caiman species, including a 15-foot long specimen sitting on a sand bar in the middle of the river. He seemed completely unperturbed by the three canoes full of people trying to get a better a look at him.
The 8 miles of Largato trail that the 50-person crew cleared the next day hadn't been visited for over seven years. It is important for the Cofanes to patrol their territory that encompasses over 1 million acres of Amazonian forest to project against illegal poaching, mining, and deforestation. In this case, the whole community decided to volunteer to go, and the global giving project covered the gas for the canoes, which cost $900. The municipal government paid for their food. In other instances, local park guards are employed.
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