I can’t believe it’s come to an end, 6 weeks has gone so fast! I’ve had a couple of homesick moments, more than a few ‘if insects don’t stop biting me I’m going to lose my mind’ moments, but mostly I’ve been incredibly happy, inspired, fulfilled and had the time of my life!
In Costa Rica, people often say ‘Pura Vida’, it’s sort of the motto of the country and means ‘Pure Life’ – and I definitely understand why now; everybody is so content and genuine and people seem to have a real connection with the environment and the wealth of wildlife around them.
The Ara Project is an amazing organisation and I feel so proud to have been involved in their work. This has got to be the definition of Pura Vida – good people working together doing good things to protect the future of beautiful endangered birds. With only around 1,000 wild Great Green Macaws left in the world, and only around 30 breeding pairs in Costa Rica, the species NEEDS the Ara Project to continue successfully.
The targets for this year are to have 15 breeding pairs of Great Green Macaws and 10 pairs of Scarlet Macaws. Realistically, the project hope to be able to release 1 chick from each pair, taking into account that some pairs may not successfully breed. The centre also has a group of 14 young Scarlet Macaws who should be ready for release later this year.
One of the most rewarding things about volunteering here, along with the challenging Macaw training and the stunning sight of wild Scarlets, is that I’ve been able to help get the message out there. The more people who know, the more people who care! And hopefully as the knowledge and enthusiasm spreads, it will lead to more donations, sponsorship and support, to help the Ara Project succeed in its mission to save the future of Costa Rica’s Macaws.
There is a substantial ‘to do’ list here – the staff at the Ara Project plan to double the size of the breeding aviaries, lay concrete on the floors of all the aviaries for improved hygiene, plant more beach almond trees (a favourite Scarlet Macaw food!), improve the quality of the paths to make visitor tours more comfortable and continue to expand on community outreach and education.
If you would like to make a donation or find out more, please visit www.thearaproject.org. Thank you to the whole Ara Project team, especially the awesome bunch I’ve spent my time with in Punta Islita, for making me so welcome and helping to make this adventure the best 6 weeks of my life.
I will never forget this incredible experience and the wonderful friends I’ve made; I’ve learnt so much and it’s been a bit of a journey of self-discovery too. Goodbye for now, Costa Rica, I’m sure I’ll be back to see you again someday!
Read all of Heather's blogs here.
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