Our Learn to Travel, Travel to Learn Team is now in Nicaragua were they managed to send pictures and stories from one of their activities in their first travelling country; Costa Rica.
This is what they shared with us:
“Hello guys and Greetings from Nicaragua!!! Last week we were in Costa Rica and now we are making our way up north.
While in Costa Rica we found out about a family run project in the Southern Caribbean area, so we visit them for a couple of days. The small community of around 100 people is called Gandoca and is part of what is known as Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, similar to a National Park but under this conservation method the government allowed families to use land, and develop different activities inside the protected area which benefits them.
This project is run by a family together with the development association of Gandoca and the MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy). Their work focus mainly in the protection of sea turtles which come every year to lay their eggs at this beach in the South Caribbean. There are 3 turtle species that lay eggs at Gandoca: Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green turtles. The association with park rangers, volunteers and community put their efforts together to protect not only the sea turtles themselves but their nest and eggs as well. Also they organized cleaning and reforestation actions since erosion of the beach has been a big issue on the past 10 years.
During our time in the project we went for a night walk were we manage to see one Hawksbill Turtle laying her eggs. This specie is consider Critically Endangered. While the turtle was laying eggs staff from different organizations were carefully collecting the eggs on a bag to relocated the nest to a safer place on the beach, to protected it from predators, the tide and/or poachers. Sadly, these turtles are very much in demand by poachers not only for their eggs but also for their shell which is use to make jewelry, souvenirs, combs and all sorts of different stuff, so while travelling through Central America you hear the word “Carey” don´t buy that product since it comes from the Hawksbill turtle shell. And now you know that it is not only an endangered specie but Critically Endangered, a title given by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN) only to species facing high risk of extinction in the wild.
During the day we went with Pablo (one of the family members) to the Gandoca lagoon an area of around 266 hectares of wetlands with a huge importance for the conservation of tarpon and manatee, which are also highly endangered species. During our visit to the lagoon we helped Pablo on the collection of data.
Him and his family have been working for over 15 years together with the University of Costa Rica measuring biomass on the Mangrove forest. “The importance of this measurement is that it gives an idea on the state of the ecosystem, by measuring biomass you are measuring energy and by knowing the amount of energy available, one can know how many species the ecosystem can support”, Pablo commented while taking data.
Visiting this project gave us the chance to share with the community of Gandoca and understand their conservation efforts first hand while made us appreciate and experience the rainforest and Costa Rica´s majestic nature in a different way.
Oh, and trying to walk on the wiggly mangrove roots, was quite a funny experience… to say the least.”
Learn to Travel, Travel to Learn – Team 2