Responsible tourism: Costa Rica turtle conservation experience
The overall aim of this project is to help protect the turtles (predominately Olive Ridely) who nest on the beaches of the Reserva Playa Tortuga. Volunteers will aid in the turtle conservation efforts in a number of ways, namely by: relocating the eggs to the safety of the sanctuary away from poachers, collecting data on the turtles numbers and quality of life, patrolling the beach at night to help prevent any eggs being stolen, and by caring for the turtles via husbandry and feeding them.
Volunteers will also play a big role in protecting the environment of the local area and the will do this via regular beach clean ups which not only helps the turtle population survive, but it makes the area much nicer for the locals too! A lot of litter washes up on the beach in this area, and without the volunteers efforts in cleaning it the problem could overwhelm the local population.
The project also makes a difference to sea turtle conservation, and indeed community education through working with local people and school children. This increases the awareness of the sea turtle’s plight, thus reducing the threat of humans.
There is a common misconception that volunteering abroad must be a good thing and will positively benefit not just the volunteer but the host community and those involved. Unfortunately this is not always the case. The increased demand for volunteer placements in developing countries has been met by an influx of new projects and volunteer-sending organisations created purely to meet this demand. The result may cause devastating effects to local culture and result in the exploitation of both the volunteer and the host community.
This project strives to adhere to the strict Responsible Travel policy, and has been developed so that it addresses actual local needs and has the community’s needs at its heart. Understanding and respecting the host community is paramount to the success of any project as long term commitment, support and adoption of sound environment, economic and social practices. This project employs as many local people possible, making it sustainable socially as well as environmentally and we encourage our volunteers to mix with the community and support them by buying local produce etc...