I have always wanted to contribute towards the protection and conservation of nature, and I now have the opportunity to accomplish that.
I’m José from Guatemala where I’m working for ARCAS on their Sea Turtle Conservation Program along the pacific coast. My role involves their rescue and rehabilitation. Just recently we managed to release a critically endangered red list species; the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) a key #conservationsuccess story! The feeling when you finally release a sea turtle back into the wild, that you’re actually making a difference is priceless and one of the motivations that keeps me going.
My work doesn’t stop there, I also participate in mangrove conservation, reforestation and environmental education programs within the local communities. On a daily basis we face a host of challenges where we have to deal with the consequences of the plastic pollution crisis and conflicts with local fishermen. Plastic is killing our sea turtles. I regularly find plastic and micro plastics in their stomachs which are incredibly hard to extract. It’s disheartening. I feel that I need to start an education program with local communities on the damaging effects of bad waste management, but I can’t do this alone, we need stricter international policies and regulations put in place if any real differences are going to be made. The same is true for the conflict with fishermen’s nets that sea turtles get trapped in- it’s difficult to control and monitor especially with the limited resources we have in Guatemala.
I actually graduated as an Agricultural Engineer so this is my first experience in conservation. Whilst working in my first professional job establishing 20 acres of eucalyptus foliage I said to myself what do I really want to do with my life? How will I look back on myself in a few years? I left. This was a risky move because I was with a successful company, especially with the limited opportunities for paid work within wildlife conservation here (we feel you José!).
But now I wake up feeling blessed with the work I’m doing, I feel like I’m getting a step closer each day to where I planned to be and that I’m making a positive impact on marine conservation in Guatemala. Conservation for me is very important and we should aim to make everyone understand it and be involved in some capacity.
For the future, I am looking forward to becoming a leader in the field to create solutions and policies to enable a greater harmony between humans and wildlife :)