Join the YWF-Kido Foundation to make a difference in Grenada! Located at the Kido Ecological Research Station (KERS) in Carriacou Island, we are looking for Volunteers to participate in Kido Foundation Sea Turtle Monitoring and Tagging Programme.
Volunteers will actively participate in monitoring and data-collection of 2 critically endangered Sea Turtle Species, Leatherback and Hawksbill, nesting on 3 different beaches on the Island; helping to prevent poaching activities of turtles and eggs. (From March to August)
- Night patrolling in the High North proposed National Park area, from 8pm to 6am, 5 nights a week.
- Assisting local guides tagging post-nesting turtles, carapace measuring & other data collection, and turtle tracks and nests disguising
The cost per volunteer is USD500 for the first 30 days and USD15 for any extra day, for accommodation, cooking gas and electricity; for a minimum 30 days stay. For shorter periods a total of USD500 is required. Food is purchased and cooked by volunteers. Any other expenses, such as flights or other transportation costs are covered by the volunteers. Volunteers are expected to have their own travel insurance.
Great learning experience04/12/2015How could this program be improved?
I wish this project would get additional funds to hire a bit more people, local and also international interns. While I was in the project, we very often could not patrol all the beaches every night or morning and sometimes the poachers would get there before us.
Response from YWF-Kido FoundationIt is unfortunate that the complainer's volunteering time for KIDO Nesting Sea Turtle Monitoring was not a positive one. We regret not to recall any complaint, formal, verbal or otherwise at the time about the issues described, though his longing to be eating out with visiting tourists up the hill seems trivially funny. Volunteering for nesting sea turtle conservation is for very dedicated and passionate persons keen in conserving these endangered species. The required patrolling conditions, such as walking on soft sandy beaches for 5 nights per week looking out for and helping nesting turtles and hatchlings, is not for everyone indeed. In 13 years we had volunteers staying for two years and coming back to KIDO up to 3 times, gap year and even repeat volunteers over 60 years old, while some, fortunately a thin minority, could not take up this challenge, physically and/or mentally. There is a difference between a 'cheap tourist holiday /volunteering approach' and a 'volunteering approach'. The first is centered on 'my own good or bad deal experience' and the second is centered on 'how can I make a difference while I am here'. In any event, volunteers who do not 'like' the program or cannot keep up with night patrolling schedules, for any reasons, discuss the issue with the management (forty feet away in the next building) and should the issue not be reasonably resolved, are free to leave any time. Said that, we assume that volunteers applying for nesting sea turtle monitoring are mature enough to understand, prior to their arrival, what challenges they may be able to take or not. Any night volunteering for turtles demands personal capacity for adaptation, physical and mental, and this is part of the experience. The majority of KIDO volunteers are, thank goodness, psychologically mature and found their stay challenging, rewarding and exciting, and some even regard it as a life changing experience. To clarify a few points: 1-KIDO policy on beach patrols is that volunteers (especially female volunteers) must patrol with either the male local guide or male research assistant. If the complainer saw a female volunteer patrolling on her own, this has occurred without our consent and probably out of her desire to shorten the patrolling time by separating the patrol team in two groups (in other words less walking on the beach). If this happened the local guide or research assistant was responsible of this breach of protocol and we were not notified. 2-The above precautions are in fact established to avoid placing volunteers in eventual difficult situations. If a man with a machete threatened the complainer, as stated from the letter, he further confirmed that he was not alone on the beach, but with the local guide to handle the situation (we just leave out any comment about how we allegedly responded, which can be interpreted in different ways by different persons). Since 2002, when this program started, we and the volunteers did not have any personal problem with poachers (usually older persons who continue to eat and share with friends turtle eggs as aphrodisiacs). Such a person simply vanishes from the beach before the patrol team is present, and the patrol team's hard work in disguising turtle tracks and nest makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to trace back the exact nest location in the morning. Carriacou has a total population of 7.000, split in small coastal communities. We employ local guides who were raised and have family close to the patrolled area which makes this program safer regarding potential confrontations with poachers. 3- KIDO Foundation has also been running an all year round Sea Turtle Rescue & Release program since 2002, because in Grenada it is still legal to fish/hunt sea turtles 8 months a year. This program is financed by KIDO Foundation mainly through private donations from tourists, who offer their assistance to purchase the animal for the survival of the species. Photographic evidence is almost always taken, recording each individual animal and scenes of the operation. We are very careful not to foster any increase of the local turtle hunt demand. To regulate the turtles purchase, KIDO operates only with Carriacou fishermen who catch turtles as part of their traditional livelihood or by-catch turtles with fishing nets. It is our experience that, if we were not to buy the turtles, these would be left to suffer greatly, slaughtered and sold to the local fish monger, or sent to the main land Grenada alive, on their back, for their final destination in Grenada, enduring much cruel suffering for several days. So, in response to the complainer, we take photos of rescued turtles and their rescuers (tourists and helpers), but we do not drag them, we actually save them from the pot! See video of KIDO turtle rescues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CjtSL9nXN7Y filmed and edited by a volunteer marine biologist three years ago. In the last few years there has been a decrease in the number of caught turtles as more fishermen are giving up the practice of setting turtle nets. The local demand for turtle meat and eggs has noticeably decreased thanks also to our nation-wide campaign on health issues in connection with the consumption of turtles as food (mercury & other heavy metals poisoning risk). KIDO Foundation views its Rescue & Release program as a temporary alleviation of sea turtle population decline until a complete moratorium on sea turtle hunting is approved by the Government of Grenada (KIDO on-line petition has reached more than 82,000 supporters) 4- FYI, eco-tourists, who sometimes were hosted at KIDO up to 2007, had their own accommodations, separate from the volunteers' accommodations (also because they had different schedules and activities) and they either bought and cooked their own food (as volunteers do) using the facilities in their own accommodations or asked us to prepare meals for them, with the help of local staff, paid way above the minimum wages (same for turtle guides). 5- For the records, we had no Spanish volunteer in 2006 and we are located on the North tip of Carriacou, not the South. Our conclusion is that, in our view, the complaints in this late review are not accurate (including date and location) and his opinions, to which he is entitled, might be borne out of personal frustration in taking up the challenge and of following misinterpretation of the events, expressed in such an unlikely variety of issues. In any case, we thank the complainer for giving us this opportunity to clarify our program and wish him all the best in any career he might pursue, at his own pace. In faith YWF-KIDO Foundation
Morning: The typical morning at KIDO Foundation for me is usually spent just coming off the beaches we patrol at night from 7:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Once I get back to the house I usually end up going to kayak to the other beaches sea turtles are known to come up to protect the possible nests from poachers and relocate them if needed. The morning patrol surveys are usually my favorite time of the day. The amount of biodiversity here in the waters of Carriacou are unmatched by any other place I have ever been to or projects I have worked on. I observed while kayaking and snorkeling: sting rays, green/ hawksbill sea turtles, eels, octopodes, sharks, and thousands of unforgettable fish species.
Afternoon: The afternoon was usually spent sleeping or touring around the island. There are many wonderful beaches on Carriacou to lay out on when it is a wonderful sunny day. The people and the atmosphere of the island is unbelievable in the most welcoming way. On days off from patrolling it is really nice to have the chance to explore some of the other neighboring islands. The Tobago Cays was one of my favorite destinations to see an abundance of wildlife and to swim with the sea turtles.
Evening: Evenings at KIDO are quite relaxing when you have a day off from patrolling but the real fun is when you are on patrol. I loved the rush of seeing the gigantic leatherbacks heave themselves out of the ocean to nest on the beaches of Carriacou. Leatherbacks can easily reach up to 6 ft long and can definitely be a bit of a shock when you first get up close to one to take her measurements.
Highlights: The most rewarding experience of the trip and memorable would be rescuing many sea turtles from being slaughtered by fishermen during the Grenadines open sea turtle hunting season. One of which was a leatherback that we spent 4 hours trying to rescue and return to the sea. At this time I was actually able to ride her out to sea and safely over the coral reef after a traumatic experience. I was able to make a movie about our efforts at KIDO in order to raise awareness and hopefully ban the hunting and killing of sea turtles all year round.
About the provider
The goal of YWF-Kido Foundation is to preserve the marine and tropical ecosystems.
We promote sustainable development in the Grenadines through environmental education, training and scientific research.
Kido Foundation mission statement: 'The social and the environmental must now come together, indeed, they should have never been apart'