Costa Rica, like many countries all over the world, is currently facing a wildlife conservation crisis. There are over 200 wild animal species native to Costa Rica that are currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is critically affecting levels of biodiversity and altering the ecosystem of the country. This crisis is due to a number of reasons, namely: deforestation; human development (i.e. the expansion of urban areas); unsustainable fishing and hunting practices; and the illegal pet trade.
Conservation projects have been established across the country, attempting to rescue and rehabilitate as many of these animals as possible before we lose them forever. Many of the most endangered species in Costa Rica have been victims of the illegal pet trade, and as a result are injured and/or unable to survive in their natural habitat. Sanctuaries have therefore been established to rehabilitate these animals with the ultimate aim of returning them to their natural habitat when they’re ready.
Wildlife conservation volunteers are vital to helping these programs run. With tight budgets and limited staff, volunteers can assist in making these projects not only successful, but thrive. Volunteers are crucial to helping with important aspects of rehabilitation, but they can also be indispensable with the education aspect of these projects. Aiding with conservation campaigns, and educating locals, is a big part of what makes these conservation efforts productive.
The Hibiscus Wildlife Conservation Program works with many tropical species like sloths, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and toucans, among others, that have been injured or otherwise need rehabilitating in order to be released into the wild. Volunteers help to provide care for these animals during their rehabilitation process, as they feed, bathe and socialize with the animals, as well as contributing to the general upkeep of the sanctuary.