The Wildtracks Experience (Darcy)
My name is Darcy and I am a 54 year old, semi-retiree from Kauai, Hawaii. In contrast to most of the current volunteers who are just starting university or beginning their careers, I am working on a plan for my retirement. For years, I have wanted to volunteer internationally with wild animal organizations but have not had the time and/or money to commit. With some recent losses in my life, I decided there was no time like the present and after some research on the internet, found Wildtracks and knew immediately that this was the place to start.
I've been here for almost a month and my time is over this week. Instead of introducing you to one specific animal, I thought I'd give you an overview of this very special organization.
To start, here is a list of the animals currently being cared for (in no particular order): 2 manatees, 25 monkeys, 2 ocelots, 1 margay, 1 coati, 4 collared peccary, 4 curassow, 8 white-tailed deer, 9 sheep, Mico and Sally (dogs), 1 river otter, chickens, geese, guinea hens, pheasants, rabbits and right now, 12 human volunteers.
Just imagine the amount of food consumed in one day by all of these animals! Our two lead volunteers, Keiley and Si, are in charge of managing the day-to-day operations and that includes: food preparation for 1-4 feeds/day (depending on the species and their age); 9 hours of observation/feeding of Duke, the young manatee; gathering seagrass for the manatee, browse for the monkeys, fish for Missy the otter; project work such as building cages or fences, gardening, starting blogs (shout out to Emma), and many others. Whatever time remains, the volunteers are on their own.
But the real heart and soul of Wildtracks lies with its' founders, Paul and Zoe Walker. They provide the vision and work tirelessly to make sure that each animal is given the best chance of being reintroduced to the wild. They started Wildtracks in 1990 as an education and outreach program. In 1999, the Manatee Rehabilitation Program began and in 2010 they took on the Primate Rehab Program. Wildtracks has become a conservation model for organizations around the world. In fact, they were recently awarded the James Waight Award for Conservation for 2013 - the most prestigious conservation award in Belize. It has been inspiring to watch them.
I cannot end this post without mentioning one other person critical to the success at Wildtracks....Neto. Neto is a Belizean who has worked here for over ten years. He is the go to guy for everything....need some fish for Missy? Neto knows the best spots. Hole in your cabana roof? Neto climbs on the roof to fix it. He has built cabanas, cages and pools; camped in the woods tracking released monkeys to ensure they are adapting well to their new environment and touched about every inch of the property in some way. A warm and friendly man with a very infectious laugh. I will miss him.
This has been a fantastic experience and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in conservation and animal care. And by the way, Wildtracks survives solely by donations so if you can't be here in person, send money!!!
Adios and Aloha ~ Darcy
Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-02-28 19:12:31 [Link to this article]
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