Sea Turtle Conservation & Environmental Education

by Corcovado Foundation
Vetted

After more than 20 years of protecting the unique wilderness of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado Foundation is in danger of shutting up shop completely at the end of February.

2016 was not a great year for our small and passionate team of conservationists. Hurricane Otto and the unusually bad rainy season severely damaged business at our non-profit hostel, Drake Bay Backpackers. We needed to evacuate a group of sea turtle volunteers in November due to the severe weather. And we were unlucky with our grant applications and regular fundraisers.

Our environmental programs- sea turtle conservation, environmental education, sustainable tourism and development- are not only essential for the protection of biodiversity in the Osa Peninsula, but are also very near and dear to our hearts. Each one of us has been working hard to save our foundation and the communities we support. But we need your help!

In Rio Oro, Aida Garcia, our director of sea turtle conservation has just completed a gruelling 6 month nesting season, protecting 2400 green, olive ridley and hawkbill nests with local leaders and volunteers. Aida has worked for the program since 2013 and is out there on the beach, recording the data, protecting the hatchlings and often getting drenched to the bone.

I never dreamed that I would be able to be right in front of a turtle while it was nesting. It was and is one of the best shows of my life. It’s such a joy to be able to be able to share my passion and the occasional madness of the project with all the volunteers and tourists who come to collaborate with us; and to contribute my grain of sand to conservation.” (Aida Garcia)

Alvaro Amo and Helena Pita, our environmental education team, work with 20 schools in disadvantaged communities across the southern pacific of Costa Rica. Since 2012, they have worked to create real change in the attitudes of young people in the region through weekly after school groups, tutoring, leadership programs and teacher training.

"Our project is so important for improving the socio-economic circumstances of children in rural communities. We empower them to determine their own futures with an awareness and passion for their natural environment" (Helena Pita)

Last but certainly not least, Alejandra Monge and Francisco Delgado. Officially known as our executive director and administrative director; but more accurately described as the heart and soul of the foundation. Alejandra has been there for us since 2001, putting up with our various dramas and telling us not to bite our nails! Fran has tirelessly driven all around the country, setting up sustainable tourism projects and dealing with our endless requests for more colored pencils, sea turtle patrol backpacks and car parts.

Persistence is my word for 2017. This organization and its mission has meant so much to me and I won’t stop fighting until the end! I’ll go down with this ship if I have to.” (Alejandra Monge)

In the communities in which we work, local people often resort to illegal logging, poaching and hunting in order to feed their families. Many have very limited access to education and suffer social problems such as teenage pregnancy, addiction and abuse. By involving local people in our conservation projects and training them to develop their own ideas and businesses, we can improve the lives of rural Costa Rican people, while protecting the spectacular ecosystems that surround us.

We are asking all of our previous donors, anyone who has volunteered with us, worked for us or stayed with us to Make a Difference and donate $1 to save our environmental programs. You can contribute by:

  • Making a US tax-deductible donation online at GlobalGiving.

  • Booking your vacation with Marvin and Natalia at Drake Bay Backpackers.

  • Popping in to our office in Agujitas and buying a t-shirt, recycled artwork, or tour from Charlotte.

  • Volunteering with Aida, Helena and Alvaro at our sea turtle or environmental education programs.

  • Making a Difference by becoming member and contributing monthly.

However you can donate, however much you can donate, you will be helping to save thousands of sea turtles from poaching, educate 600 children in the importance of their natural world, empower 11 projects from several different communities to create sustainable rural tourism, and support 14 passionate (and worried) conservationists!

THANK YOU FROM THE WHOLE TEAM!

Alejandra Monge          Natalia Andraws

Francisco Delgado          Marvin Alvarez

Aida Garcia                  Charlotte Rogers

Alvaro Amo           Ana Margarita Suarez

Helena Pita                        Marcela Peña

Zoraida Tenorio             Xiomara Valdez

Shirley Quirós                Jennifer Flores

 

As the year comes to an end, I am counting my blessings and you and your support has been one of them.    Here are some of the main accomplishments of 2016, and they were all possible because of your contribution:

  • The environmental education program reached 325 children from 22 schools every two months.
  • We worked with 68 teenagers in 3 workshops, to analyze with them ways to stop violence against women and children, and sexual education.
  • 82 formal teachers received training about environmental education and how to teach and educate children to become more respectful and sensitive towards the environment.   Due to this training process, more than a 1000 children are now receiving formal training.
  • 6 environmental children groups were formed and are meeting weekly in 4 different communities, supporting environmental efforts such a beach and rivers cleanups and recycling.
  • Among other successes, we should mention also our turtle conservation program, which protected more than 2000 nests at the Rio Oro Wildlife Reserve and therefore ensure the survival of an estimate of 99,000 baby turtles that made it to the sea. 

Wishing you a wonderful 2017 full of happiness, health, peace and adventure,

 

Alejandra Monge

Corcovado Foundation.

 

Rivers flooded
Rivers flooded

 

Hurricane Otto, the first hurricane to make landfall in Costa Rica since records began, has been just one part of our troubles this month at our sea turtle project in Rio Oro.

In this tropical and remote location, our volunteers and coordinators generally enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, the green of the jungle and the blue of the sky. What we were not prepared for, was an unusually late monsoon season. On November 13th, a cloak of gray clouds descended upon us and soon, thunderstorms and rain cut off our communication with the outside world.

Our brave volunteers sat in wait for the rain to stop. Here in the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica, locals are always optimistic… “Pura Vida. The rain will stop soon.” Unfortunately for us and the turtles, this was not the case.

Our sea turtle project is located between two large rivers and in these heavy rains they had flooded to such an extent that no cars were able to enter nor leave. We were stranded. Volunteers passed the time playing board games by candlelight as we watched our food supplies dwindle. Thanks to the national emergency service, our community received a delivery by military truck. And many of our volunteers were able to return home. We thought the worst was over.

Then we heard the news. A tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea was headed for Costa Rica and it was rapidly forming into Hurricane Otto. At this point, we had to make a decision. Stay, or go. On the 22nd of November we decided to make a move.  It was the first time they had faced an evacuation and it was strangely exhilarating when we set off. That feeling was immediately erased when we saw the river Piro. Twenty meters of deep brown rushing water that we would have to cross on foot.

Step by step, we made it across. Our salvation waiting for us on the other side. A taxi! For the rest of the week our coordinators weathered the storm in Puerto Jimenez (the only large town in the Osa Peninsula) and our volunteers made it safely back to their home countries. What an adventure!

Now, as we return to our camp in Rio Oro, we are asking our followers and donors to help us rebuild our project for the coming month. Since the evacuation, only our long-term coordinators remain at the project and we desperately need your help to recommence our conservation work. Roads, rivers and homes remain flooded here and we are desperate to work on helping our community and our beloved sea turtles.

During the last 4 months, 2346 sea turtles have been registered in Rio Oro.  Our presence prevents egg poachers from stealing their eggs.  We have been walking the beach tirelessly 3 times a night during these months on a very limited budget!  Help us complete this effort and make it until the end of the season.  

 

Please give generously today to our Hurricane Otto appeal for donations. We thank you for your support and for all the messages we have received these past few weeks expressing your concern.

SOS! We need your help now!

Dear friend of the Corcovado Foundation,

I am reaching out to you because you have shown us that you care about our cause.  Either you have donated in the past, have volunteered in our programs or have stayed at the hostel/camp and learned about what we do.   This year has been an exceptionally difficult year for our turtle conservation program. 

This is our second year working at Rio Oro Wildlife Reserve.  We came to this remote spot of the Osa Peninsula because both the ministry of environment and the local communities asked for our support in protecting this incredibly important beach. There are more turtles on this beach than any of the other  beaches in the Costa Rican South Pacific…and poachers know it well. 

Last year we received help from another NGO who had a grant to work there and partnered with us to achieve this huge endeavor.  This NGO didn’t receive funding this year and therefore we are alone working on this precious beach.  

Our only source of funding is the turtle volunteer program and Globalgiving. And our expenses are huge!   We have to pay for the lodging, food, salaries and stipends of the biologists that relentlessly walk the beach every night to protect the turtles.  Because we need help financing the costs of transportation we have asked for the help of government authorities.   We also need their help in stopping the egg poachers who visit to this beach every day.  We haven’t received any support, even though this is a protected area and the responsibility of Costa Rican government.  We are working all alone.

If we don’t get help very soon, we won’t be able to maintain the program past October 15. We need to raise at least $9000 USD in order to stay in Río Oro until the end of the year.  In addition to monetary contributions we could use more volunteers.  We need more boots on the ground to protect this beach, especially in the next 3 months.

Anything can help, $10, $20 anything.   Please help us maintain this huge effort!  

Since our last update, we have made it to the end of the first month of our 2016 sea turtle conservation program in Rio Oro. Our move from Drake Bay to Rio Oro last year exceeded all of our expectations with an incredible 3000 nests logged. In fact, our data suggests that Rio Oro may be one of the most important beaches in the south Pacific of Costa Rica for solitary olive ridleys.

Due to this huge number of nesting turtles, the Corcovado Foundation needs your help more than ever to continue projecting these stunning creatures. To complete the season this year, we are seeking $10,000 from generous people like you. Conservation equipment such as turtle tags, data loggers and gloves need to be purchased, which really adds up when you are protecting thousands of nests!

The Corcovado Foundation is also committed to continue giving back to the community through our environmental programs. This means that we need your help in order to train local people in sea turtle conservation, pay for volunteer accommodation, local salaries and transportation.

This community-based conservation model proved to be extremely successful in our previous location of Drake Bay. By engaging with people who were poaching turtle eggs and offering them a viable economic alternative, we were able to reduce poaching from 90% of nests to just 10%. Even better than that, the Drake Bay locals are now running the project on their own.

In Rio Oro, we have found that most poachers are coming from further afield, but community engagement remains vital for a number of reasons. The Gulfo Dulce coast, extending from Puerto Jimenez and south to Corcovado National Park has a string of important nesting beaches. To the north of Rio Oro, the non-profit organization Osa Conservation is protecting two beaches. To the south, local group COTORCO manages Carate Beach.

By adding the Corcovado Foundation project in Rio Oro we can all work together to have a completely projected zone. By cooperating with other NGOs and local communities we can discourage poachers from coming to the area in the first place.

We hope to make our 2016 season as successful as last year, when volunteers and staff were able to protect 99.3% of all nests on the beach from poaching and predation. This adds up to tens of thousands of olive ridley and green turtle hatchlings! Since only 1 in 1000 eggs makes it to adulthood, every nest we save is vital to the future population of Pacific sea turtles.

Even a small donation will be a big help, so we thank you in advance for your generosity, as do all these cute little guys below!

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Corcovado Foundation

Location: Moravia,, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website: http:/​/​www.corcovadofoundation.org
Project Leader:
Alejandra Monge
Moravia,, San Jose Costa Rica

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.