Known as one of the most biodiverse locales on the planet, Costa Rica offers tremendous natural beauty. Protecting that beauty and biodiversity is not always easy, however, and relies on the willingness of concerned volunteers. Individuals and groups who are interested in helping to protect the natural beauty of Costa Rica now have the chance to participate in a conservation program while living in a tropical rainforest reserve on the Pacific Coast. The program provides the chance to take part in crocodile monitoring and research, sea turtle volunteer research and monitoring, mammal monitoring and river otter research, a butterfly project, environmental education, and more. Volunteers may join for as little as one week or up to twelve weeks. The program operates throughout the year, with the exception of the sea turtle project, which only operates from July to January.
Ecotourism has become one of the most popular industries in Costa Rica, and with this program, which seeks to protect the environment, volunteers receive three meals per day, lodging in a private room in the research center, 24/7 Internet access, and training materials, beginning at £385.
Sea Turtle Volunteer Program
Four species of sea turtles make their homes around the South Pacific beaches of Osa, Costa Rica. Here, the turtles nest at various times of the year, based on species. All four species, the Lora, Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill, are all in danger of extinction. The nesting period runs from July through December, although peak nesting times occur during the months of September and October. The program reports that during past seasons, volunteers have protected more than 140 sea turtle nests, eventually releasing thousands of hatchlings. A portion of the eggs in each nest are transferred to the nursery/hatchery for around-the-clock observation and protection. While in the hatchery, the turtle nests provide vital data, including nest temperature, incubation period, and how those factors affect the gender of the hatchlings.
Volunteers of the program will have the chance to learn about the life cycle and biology of sea turtles while participating in a serious scientific research project. Training is provided to volunteers upon arrival, including how to properly use equipment and information regarding proper field behavior. All volunteer groups are supervised by experienced staff, who demonstrate proper scientific methods, hatchery work, how to collect data, and how to handle nesting females.
Each volunteer will be responsible for the care and protection of the hatchery and camp as well as the cleaning and maintenance of Playa Tortuga. Volunteers will also assist biologists with monitoring, collection of data, and the management of hatchling releases. Once it is determined the eggs are no longer threatened by tides, beach erosion, or poachers, they are safely returned to the beach. Volunteers also assist with night patrols on the beach to prevent poaching.
Mammal Inventory Monitoring Project
Eleven species of mammals live within the reserve. The most common species include the coatis, raccoons, kinkajous, river otters, weasels, monkeys, and tayra. Others also live on the reserve, but are more difficult to monitor. Trail cameras provide excellent insight into the presence of mammals in the forest, including the density of populations. Such mammals are vital to the dynamic balance of the forest.
Crocodilian Monitoring Volunteer Program
The primary goal of this program is to collect information regarding the crocodiles at the reserve, including their relationship with the environment, distribution, and the impact humans have on their ecosystem. An initial profile of the population is conducted to assist in the conservation and management of the crocodile species.
Environmental Education Volunteering Project
It is vital that future generations develop an understanding regarding the importance of natural resources management and environmental conservation. Part of the reserve’s core mission is to actively involve and educate the community at large, particularly the youth. This is accomplished through conducting activities and workshops for families and children in the surrounding region.
All of the projects at the reserve are directed into environmental education programs, through guided tours, lectures, volunteer opportunities, and field trips with local schools, including Puerto Nuevo Elementary School, Tortuga Elementary School, and Escuela Verde. The reserve has also conducted site visits to many schools in the Cortes district, to conduct field trips and workshops.
Butterfly Garden Volunteering Project
The primary objectives of the butterfly garden project are to investigate the native species of butterflies within the reserve, along with all aspect of their plant foods and reproductive cycle. Environmental education workshops are also planned, which allow local community members to visit the garden. Volunteers will assist in conducting educational classes and tours as well as developing similar workshops for local schools.
Individuals who are interested in learning more about the volunteer projects can obtain information regarding scheduling and pricing at www.workingabroad.com/projects/costa-rica-sonservation-volunteer