The last month has been a very exciting time for all of us here at Jalova for we have developed opportunities that open exciting new avenues for research and social impact. Here at GVI we are always looking for ways to improve out projects, and the one main aspect that the Jalova base was lacking was interaction with the local community, primarily due to its incredibly remote location. Don’t get me wrong however, the Jalova base is a place of boundless biological beauty, a place where every footstep feels fortunate, but it does not satisfy the educational demands of successful conservation efforts. It is for this reason that we here at base have been looking for local organizations to partner with, to increase GVI’s social impact here in Tortuguero National Park.
It is therefore with great excitement that we can report that we have been successful and are in the process of setting up a base in Tortuguero Town, in partnership with ASVO (Asociación de voluntarios). ASVO is an organization that has had a base in Tortuguero for years and has very robust projects in key conservation areas. They work very closely with the park rangers, meaning that they can be called out to help at any time with any vital task. If there is a task that the park rangers need some more hands for, they call ASVO; tasks such as running surveys to track the behavior of the endangered West Indian Manatee to going deep into the park to help clear a fallen tree. ASVO also has some exciting projects of their own, including a reforestation project in which the aim is to stop the erosion of the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) rookery beach that Tortuguero is so famous for. They have pioneered this project and have a whole greenhouse full of saplings ready to be planted, they just need the GVI volunteers’ help!
One essential difference in the work that ASVO do is their work in the local town. Each of their projects are intrinsically linked to the townspeople and through their long-standing presence here in the town they have developed good relations with many important organizations. Recently they took action to help many of the pet owners around town. There has been a particularly bad track record of cases of dogs with Canine Distemper, a virus that caused them to fall seriously ill and, in some particularly bad cases, die. Tortuguero is small and does not have a vet and due to its isolated nature, it is very difficult to take a seriously ill pet anywhere for help. ASVO stepped up and ran a vaccination drive for all the dogs in the village, both pets and strays, and were able to vaccine over 300 dogs over the course of two days! These sorts of projects that GVI volunteers will be helping with when they start arriving next week, which is very exciting!
It is important when aiming to improve the world to examine issues from all angles. It is this idea that we have had in our minds when looking to expand out the influence of the Jalova base to the local community. We hope that all our volunteers are just as excited as us to work more closely with local organizations and to get stuck into the community side of conservation!