Greetings from the Corcovado Foundation! This year marks a very special moment in our history, as the community association that we have worked with for the last four years, ACOTPRO, takes the driving seat and assumes more control of coordinating the turtle project. Commensurate with the long-term goal of the program, the 2014 nesting season will see the alliance between the Foundation and ACOTPRO mature further, with the local community enthusiastically taking on much greater responsibility while still counting on solid support from a team of biologists provided by the Foundation.
In an exciting new set up, two coordinators from ACOTPRO will team up with two international biologists to ensure that local and volunteer-based activities run harmoniously. ACOTPRO will coordinate their homestay network, night patrols, community work and the construction of the hatchery, and international staff will recruit and coordinate volunteers, provide workshops and training, and assist with the management of the scientific investigation.
The bad news for 2014 is that no major grants were secured for the season, meaning that finances are extremely tight. The program currently only has one half of the funds required to pay for night patrol shifts to search for nesting turtles, meaning that the number of patrols will have to be drastically cut if additional funding is not found, and many turtles and nests may be left vulnerable to poaching. Moreover there is currently no money available to host the Sea Turtle Festival in Drake Bay, a popular annual event that brings local adults, children, businesses and tourists together to celebrate sea turtles and raise awareness about their plight.
We are desperately appealing to donors to help us make up the shortfall in the budget and allow these important activities to take place. Unless an additional $8,000 can be found, the ability of the program to provide effective protection to the sea turtles of Drake Bay will be severely limited.
During 2013, very few sea turtles came to nest, and so we are expecting especially high numbers this year. We cannot afford to fail the sea turtles at this time, while the population remains in such perilous danger of extinction in the region.
For their part, ACOTPRO has been working tirelessly throughout the year to garner support for their community-led initiative, and have secured assistance from the Ministry of Environment and the Osa municipality. As the main fruit of their efforts, work is about to begin on the construction of a dedicated field station on Drake beach, which will include the turtle hatchery and a secure post from which field work can be coordinated. This will help to transform the experience of volunteers and local staff by improving logistics and providing essential facilities, such as water and cooking equipment, right on the beach.
The Corcovado Foundation will push on with its effort to raise awareness of the program and provide as much training, salaries, volunteers and logistical support as possible to the community of Drake Bay, but as a non-profit organization we cannot do it without the help of donors, such as yourself, who wish to do something to help to protect nature. What seems like a small amount of money back home can go a long way here, and the locals are matching every generous donation with their own selfless voluntary efforts in the field. So please, do whatever you can to help us protect this keystone endangered species, and let’s share the vision of a world in which future generations will also be able to enjoy sea turtles.
The turtles and the community in Drake Bay thank you for your wonderful generosity!