YWF-Kido Foundation: Marine Turtles Conservation

By YWF-Kido Foundation   Reviews (7)   87% Rating

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

View Program Information
  • Grenada
Program Length: 
1-3 months
3-6 months
$500 - $2,000 (USD)
See site for details.
Cost Description: 

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.

Volunteer Types: 
Age Group: 
Volunteer House
Participants travel to the program independently (not in a group with other participants).
Cover Letter
Letters of Recommendation

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Program Reviews (7)

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  • Impact
  • Support
  • Fun
  • Value
  • Safety
  • Noora
    Age: 25-30
    KIDO is more than a project, it's a Home

    I've been part of the volunteer program four times for periods of 4 weeks to a year between 2010-2012 and every time I've left wanting to go back. Marina and Dario are extremely conscious, loving, caring, genuine, talented and knowledgeable in every aspect. I've been the only volunteer and I've been part of a group, always feeling safe and appreciated. Project is more than just patrolling the beaches, it's about education, about respect, about community and love towards all living creatures. Rehabilitating and understanding the nature. These people will do and give anything to save an innocent life. My needs were met when I was sick or injured, questions were answered and I was offered support in my needs and worries -personal or program related- and freedom to be part of the island life if I so wished. When I was the only female, I was patrolling the beaches with a local guide and a dog so my safety never was at stake. I had so much fun which is why I returned so many times. I am willing to give you more information of the project and my experience, feel welcome to contact me!

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  • Tom
    Age: 31-50
    University of Chester
    Response to Danny's negative comments

    In response to some of the negative comments posted by Danny above. I'm not sure exactly why he has suddenly decided to write his review 9 years later?

    My name's Tom and I worked with Kido as a volunteer for almost 2 years from 2010-2011. If you have any questions regarding the project or the work Kido do, feel free to send me a question through this website.

    Ok let's get started:
    1- "Little actual support from the hosts"

    My response:This is not the experience I had or any of the many volunteers I worked with had over the 2 year period I worked with them. I can remember on one occasion when I got sick, the hosts gave me 2 weeks off, took me to the doctors, regularly checked on me and even offered to pay for a flight off the island if I got worse. Similarly, the hosts would always offer to drive me to the beach or pick me up if I was feeling tired.

    2- "Placed in potential dangerous situations"

    My response: Maybe he has never worked for any other conservation projects in the Caribbean or around the world. If he had, he might know that no project is 100% safe. Other projects I have worked on have had serious incidents. In my experience there has never been an incident on a Kido project and that is down to how seriously they take volunteer safety.

    In my opinion you are always going to take a risk when working abroad and to be honest, I don't think that risk is any greater than walking down the road in your local town or city after hours. I have had my bicycle stolen out of my hands in broad daylight, been threatened verbally and physically, attacked etc all in my home city of Chester. I think the worst thing that happened to me at Kido was that I got hit on the head by a turtle's flipper. I had some other minor injuries - all my own fault!

    And I did happen to meet the 'local poacher'. He waved at me and smiled. He did have a machete in his hand, but it's important to mention that ALL local guys carry machetes on the island - it's perfectly normal as they use it as a tool for day to day tasks.

    3- "An example of the danger the volunteers were placed in was when I was stopped by a local smuggler & poacher holding his machete and I told I should get of his beach now. I called the hosts who informed me to 'man up'"

    My response: I think I've addressed this point above, but I would like to add that every time I felt that I wanted to raise an issue of safety with the hosts, it was taken VERY seriously.

    4 -"Several other volunteers who were young females were patrolling these beaches at night either in pairs or on their own which was incredibly dangerous."

    My response: In my experience females NEVER patrolled on their own. All females patrolled either with myself or a trusted and experienced local guide.

    I'm surprised that he actually managed to last more than one night on the beach, seeing as it was "incredibly dangerous" he must have been terrified!

    5- "The hosts saw themselves as some sort of wildlife guardians but in reality they were more interested in the publicity and looking good in front of the tourists."

    My response: This is just absolute nonsense - completely ignorant of all the wildlife Kido foundation have protected, saved, rehabilitated, nurtured over the years they have been active. You only have to read the biography of Marina Fastigi to know this is not a person who is just concerned with "publicity" and "looking good". In fact, it's the complete opposite of Marina's personality. I think the truth is most people who meet her see her as a wildlife guardian. She does what she does because she is passionate about it.

    6- "One example was for a photo opportunity for a paying groups of tourists dragging a female Hawksbill back up the beach to allow all the groups to have they photo taken with her."

    My response: This is completely taken out of context. Kido have rescued countless turtles and have ensured that turtles can lay their eggs safely on the beach. Turtles are often moved to and from the beach, to boats, to and from the project site - for measurements, to check their health etc. When tourists are present at the beach, it is important that they get a chance to take a picture with the turtle - and this in no way harms the animal. I've worked for many other turtle projects where turtles have to be handled for scientific data to be recorded - sometimes pulling them out of the water, dragging them up onto boats and even carrying out surgical procedures. This isn't ideal of course, we would like to just leave them alone, but without handling them sometimes - how do we get any scientific data? Turtles are pretty tough animals: they can survive shark attacks, hurricane force seas and crashing waves, they swim thousands of miles.... I'm sure a turtle can survive a photo opportunity. Of course, this doesn't mean it's ok to "drag one up the beach" for a photo opportunity - but in my experience, I never saw a turtle handled in this way.

    Additionally, I never saw hosts at Kido charging tourists for pictures with turtles. Sometimes tourists were so moved by the experience of seeing a turtle that they insisted on making a donation. However, on many occasions no donations were made by tourists - but they did go away with a picture and story to tell their family and friends and spread the word of turtle conservation.

    7- "A Spanish volunteer who was there at the same time as us who had agreed to stay for 1 year felt he was being treated like a slave and joked 'I'll die on this beach'."

    My response: Again, not my or anybody else's experience I know of. On some other projects I've worked on in the Caribbean, Greece and Thailand you have to work 6 days a week. On some occasions (on other projects) when volunteers were short, I had to work as many as 14 days straight. In contrast, for Kido, I only worked 5 days a week. Even though the beach was walking distance - and a beautiful walk at that - they drove me to the beach and picked me up whenever I was feeling overtired. I got time off whenever, no questions asked, when I felt sick or unable to work. They left me to rest in the day time, unless one of the hosts came to deliver me some delicious cake he had bought! Or he didn't want me to miss out on an experience rescuing a turtle.

    8- "If you want to work with sea turtles there are many other areas better to do it. Sorry for the negative review but I felt it important for potential young students keen on gaining experience know what they could be letting themselves in for."

    My response: For a start, I would like to know which other projects he has worked for. I'm not sure how he can make such a comparison. I've worked on many other projects and have found them to be in line with what is expected of you - and in fact, Kido allocates volunteers more in terms of free time for sure.

    Finally, I'm not sure why he's apologizing for such a negative review 9 years later and then justifying it by showing how concerned he is for potential young students? What happened to his concern over the past 9 years? How many vulnerable young students have been in potentially dangerous situations during that time according to him? Jeez! More to the point, how has he been able to sleep at night?

    To round off - I would like to let potential young students know what they could be letting themselves in for: The experience of a life time working with dedicated wildlife conservationists who are compassionate and inspiring people in a breath taking environment that is pristine. Enough said.....
    Again, mail me if you want to know more details.

    How could this program be improved?

    Of course all projects have room for improvement but the bottom line is this program needs more volunteers, funding and recognition for their amazing work!

    Releasing a rescued turtle back into the ocean.
    Educating kids about turtle conservation at a local school
    Watching a giant leatherback turtle throw sand just after she has laid her eggs.
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  • Sara
    Age: 31-50
    An Amazing Experience!!

    I volunteered at KIDO for one year, starting in 2001, and have returned many times since then, with my last stay in 2014. Every time I return, I have an amazing experience, engaging in a diversity of conservation activities that expand my perspective, world view and understanding.

    I was there when the sea turtle monitoring program began and safety has always been a top priority of Dario and Marina, safety of both volunteers and the sea turtles. While sea turtle monitoring, I was never alone on the beach at night, always with a male local guide or research assistant, and a dog. Often Dario and Marina were there as well while tagging and measuring the turtles.

    I have donated funds more than once to KIDO to purchase sea turtles from the local fisherman and release them afterwards. Each time, Dario and Marina made sure that the sea turtles were as comfortable and safe as possible until we were able to release them back into the ocean. I would not have donated if this was not the case.

    There are so many wonderful facets of KIDO, from the sea turtle monitoring to the diversity of animals (wildlife, cats and dogs), to the swimming and snorkeling, to the local youth eco-club, to the puppet shows, to the wildlife rehabilitation, to the beautiful setting, to the living facilities, to the KIDO library, and to the people you meet. I would not trade my time there for anything.

    Dario and Marina's dedication, creativity and way of living inspired me every day while I was at KIDO, and continue to inspire me every day while I am back in Canada.

    As stated well by a previous reviewer, this project is for those who are dedicated to conservation work and willing to work hard, not for those just looking for a fun, social and easy going experience.

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  • Marjut
    Age: 31-50
    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    Great learning experience

    I volunteered in this project first time 2007 for 1 month and returned year later for 3 months internship.

    I am not biologist or environmentalist by education and was looking to change my life and chose several volunteer projects with sea turtles during my sabbatical leave. I am also what you would call a more mature volunteer as I was 37 years old at the time. Since then I have worked in many sea turtle projects around the world.

    KIDO project in Carriacou is one place where I learned a lot about sea turtles, conservation and different lifestyle in general. Working on the beaches during the night is hard work for sure, but it is also very rewarding. You know there are poachers that come to check the beach in the morning, I saw them myself, when one morning we stayed until 7am to see a leatherback turtle go back safely to the sea after nesting.

    Being able to protect the nests, tag the turtles and making sure the nest is not found in the morning, but can be found later for nest excavation are jobs that make it all worth while. Writing down the data also is very important part of the global sea turtle conservation effort.

    Accommodation surrounded by pristine nature and dogs and cats was also a big highlight for me. I still miss my favorite dogs Zhawe and Calimero. Snorkelling in the bay just down the stairs was also a treat.

    I admire Dario and Marina tremendously for the life they are living and the kind of people they are. Sometimes I would wake up and hear the beautiful song played with flute by Dario and I helped to create back drops for a puppet show about saving whales that Marina had created these amazing puppets for.

    This project is not for someone who is looking for fun, social volunteering experience with some work, but mostly fun. This project is very good for someone who is seriously interested in grassroots conservation work and is willing to make the effort and work hard.

    What comes to safety, you need to be aware of the possibility of encountering a poacher or smuggler during the night, but during my night beach patrols, I only encountered other people on the beach 3 times and 2 times out of 3 they were some young people and one time only a guy that was a known thief that kept his distance due to our local guide and a dog. And then there was the time when the poachers came to check the beach, but pretended to just come for a morning swim. More scary were the superstitions and stories told by one of our local guides during the nights. But then again, he talked all the time and sang too and never slept while we rested between the patrols.

    For me this is one of the best projects I have been to and I would love to go back one day.

    How 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.

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  • Danny
    Age: 25-30
    Bangor University
    Contrasting experience

    I visited the KIDO project with a friend summer 2006 we were both marine zoolgy students and very keen on gaining experience in the conservation field.

    Firstly the positives -
    Beautiful location, southern tip of a stunning island
    Hands on experience with marine life
    Contact with locals
    Reasonable value accommodation

    Now the negatives -
    Little actual support from the hosts
    Placed in potential dangerous situations
    Worked like a slave at times
    Treated local staff poorly
    Treated very different from tourist visitors (not allowed to eat with them)
    Didn't really practice what they preached

    Conclusion -
    The hosts saw themselves as some sort of wildlife guardians but in reality they were more interested in the publicity and looking good in front of the tourists.
    One example was for a photo opportunity for a paying groups of tourists dragging a female Hawksbill back up the beach to allow all the groups to have they photo taken with her.
    A Spanish volunteer who was there at the same time as us who had agreed to stay for 1 year felt he was being treated like a slave and joked 'I'll die on this beach'.
    An example of the danger the volunteers were placed in was when I was stopped by a local smuggler & poacher holding his machete and I told I should get of his beach now. I called the hosts who informed me to 'man up'. Our local guide who was a brilliant guide got us all of the beach as he was concerned. Serval other volunteers who were young females were patrolling these beaches at night either in pairs or on their own which was incredibly dangerous.

    So though appearing like an island paradise with Eco warriors safe guarding the local wildlife the reality is very different.
    If you want to work with sea turtles there are many other areas better to do it. Sorry for the negative review but I felt it important for potential young students keen on gaining experience know what they could be letting themselves in for.

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    Response from YWF-Kido Foundation

    It 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

  • Wild
    Age: 19-24
    Madison, New Jersey
    Western State University College of Law
    The Best Experience I Have Had

    Volunteering with this organization is one of the best decisions I have made. The directors are amazing people who really care about this cause. Conservation and awareness is the top priority here and by following suit there will never be a dull moment from when you set foot on the island of Carriacou.

    A perfect opportunity for some passionate people looking to do something meaningful and important. The first time you see one of these amazing creatures come ashore is unlike any experience you will ever have. One you will truly cherish and never be able to stop talking about until you watch the hatchlings emerge from a nest you helped to save and swim out to sea.

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  • NCSU_2012
    Age: 25-30
    Raleigh, NC
    North Carolina State University
    A Life Changing Experience!

    I volunteered two summers at Kido and I plan to go back again!

    Both summers I made friends from many difference countries, since volunteers come from all over the globe. Also, another cool thing about Kido is that there are animals EVERYWHERE. There are dogs, cats, land turtles (tortoises), lizards, and non-poisonous snakes.

    The work on this project is physically intense since you will be patrolling beaches at night. You will definitely be IN SHAPE and lose some weight over the course of your volunteer work. Don't expect to be able to take a hot shower every day because you need to conserve water (the water source is rain water). The cool thing about this though is that when you return to "modern life" you will have established a GOOD habit of not wasting running water.

    Main perks of the program include: seeing the moon and stars over the ocean at night, getting to touch and interact with real leatherback turtles (and some hawksbills too), and finally I must also mention the WONDERFUL mini "library" of secondhand books available to the volunteers.

    Be prepared to expand your mind!!

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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'

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