The TOP 5 Volunteer Projects in Big Cat Conservation
Ellie Harkness looks into the ethical issues surrounding volunteering with big cats around the world, and a list of our top 5 big cat conservation projects!
December 8th 2019
As a native Costa Rican, I can tell you my home country offers natural beauty beyond comparison. In spite of its small size, Costa Rica has never been afraid to take on big challenges when it comes to preserving nature. In fact, more than 28% of our land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges and has topped the polls when it comes to ecological footprint, since 99% of our energy is renewable. In addition, Costa Rica has been proclaimed as one of the happiest countries in the world, and here’s why.
As humans, we have this need to connect with nature and experience it first hand. In Costa Rica, we have access to countless beautiful beaches, rainforests, volcanoes, mountains and wildlife. We also have warm weather throughout the year, even during the rainy season, making it an ideal place to visit all year round. Finally, there’s just something about the way Costa Ricans are. People tend to be very welcoming and warm; there’s a sense of community you immediately take part in when you arrive, we call it the Pura Vida Lifestyle.
This way of living and caring about preserving nature has been contagious both for us Costa Ricans and international visitors from around the world, making it an ideal destination for WorkingAbroad. It is a little known fact that Costa Rica holds more than 5% of the world’s species, even though it’s land only covers 0.03% of the planet. There is a lot to do when it comes to wildlife conservation in Costa Rica, and this is why all our projects revolve around wildlife here. If you want to learn more about the projects we currently offer in Costa Rica, keep reading!
This volunteer experience focuses on rescuing injured and abandoned animals at the Cabo Blanco National Park, one of the most beautiful areas of the Pacific Coast. You’ll learn about the wildlife care and rehabilitation first hand, and experience returning animals to the wild once they are able!
“The time I spent in Costa Rica was amazing! It was a really great project with a genuinely positive ethos. I am glad that I ended up there and feel like I learnt a lot of really interesting and relevant things from the experience. I would recommend it to anyone who was looking to do something similar or is up for an adventure!” — Joseph Freer, from the UK
This opportunity focuses on the Osa Peninsula in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Here, you’ll take part in the whole process of sea turtle conservation, from night surveys, monitoring nesting sea turtles, relocating eggs to the hatchery and releasing baby turtles into the ocean.
“My volunteering experience was absolutely amazing; I really liked working with sea turtles, I think the conservation project was run in a professional way and I learnt a lot about how is the work in the conservation field, that is very useful for me because I’m studying to work in this field.” — Matteo Ferrarini, from Italy
The Olive Ridley Sea Turtles are a threatened species of sea turtles, and so we have created a volunteer programme aiming to protect their exceptional phenomenon, “arribadas”, where thousands of turtles come together on the spectacular Ostional beach on the Pacific coast.
“What an amazing journey the past few weeks have been working closely with research assistants and volunteers who share a common passion for conserving the environment and protecting the populations of Olive Ridley sea turtles. We were incredibly lucky to have arrived in time to witness an arribada! It was truly an unforgettable experience working alongside these beautiful sea turtles to obtain all the biomimetic data needed to further understand their nesting behaviours.” — Timothy Chung from the USA
By joining this volunteer project, you’ll truly experience living in a rainforest reserve first-hand. Here, you’ll take part in sea turtle research, crocodile monitoring and research, mammal surveys and setting camera traps, tree boa studies, environmental education and butterfly garden projects, it has it all!
“Nothing but positives to report! I had an incredible time in Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to help with the first two turtle releases of the year. Can’t overstate how amazing it is to watch them make their way to the water for the first time. Other highlights were the tree boa monitoring and the crocodile/caiman boat trip.” — Sean Hiddleston, from the UK
Article by WorkingAbroad Blog Writer Mariana Diaz Fernadez