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Karen Winnick, a Board member for Fauna & Flora International in the United States, is the author and illustrator of children’s books and an avid supporter of wildlife conservation. Recently she joined US Executive Director Katie Frohardt on a visit to our turtle project in Nicaragua.
What memories of Nicaragua! Midnight on the beach in Chacocente watching baby olive ridley turtles bubble out of the sand. First one baby turtle’s head, then another and another until there are perhaps a hundred emerging from the nest. And only a few feet away another nest and more baby turtles struggle to the surface. Soon the beach is bursting with baby turtles trying to make their way to the ocean. José Urteaga and his able team lead us in our efforts to assist them. Shoo away the vultures. Head the babies in the right direction. Reposition those that the surf has brought back.
And early the next morning we are back collecting baby turtles in buckets to be released when the sun goes down, when it is safer for them to make their way to the ocean.
José leads FFI’s efforts in Nicaragua to save the turtles and to help the local people to support and value these efforts as well as to preserve their other natural resources. With great charisma and a natural leadership style, José is doing an amazing job. Meeting with the local people and many school children (who are learning “No Come Los Huevos De Las Tortugas”), José and his team have made a a strong impact. There is much more to be done and I was so impressed with their tireless efforts.
My Nicaragua trip was filled with wonderful experiences. Hiking in Ometepe with Salvadora Morales to see parrots, kiskadees, caracaras, hummingbirds and those wonderfully noisy howler monkeys. A delicious home grown lunch, even the coffee, at a local finca. A boat ride to watch the mama olive ridley turtles swimming near shore in preparation for laying their eggs en masse–the arribada. Ferry rides, cold showers, good food and visits to a volcano and museum. Sharing these experiences with Eugene Rutagarama, who came all the way from Rwanda, Katie, Amy, Julie, Lisa and Yaritza as well as José, Salva and the others made for the most memorable trip–full of laughter and many warm feelings. Without a doubt a highlight in my life!