NEW WORLD WONDERS

Americas and the Caribbean is a diverse region brimming with natural wonders. Its landscapes range from rugged mountains and arid deserts to lush and fertile rainforests, and from cold, turbulent oceanic waters to roaring rivers to warm, crystal-clear tropical seas. The Neotropical realm (Central and South America and the Caribbean) in particular boasts some of the world’s richest areas for biodiversity, with 10% of the world’s species found in the Amazon Rainforest alone.

This is the land of the jaguar, spectacled bear, ocelot and anaconda. Its tropical forests are decorated with brightly coloured birds such as toucans and macaws, while New World monkeys provide an atmospheric soundtrack as they call to one another in the treetops. The region is also critical for sea turtles, with leatherback, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles all coming ashore to nest here.

The Caribbean, meanwhile, supports a richness of biodiversity that may be surprising to some. Its tropical coral reefs are teeming with life, and many of its islands are home to an array of species found nowhere else on Earth. Particularly startling is the level of reptile endemism, with 6% of the world’s reptiles found in the West Indies alone.

We work in 11 countries in the Americas and Caribbean

1952

Supported action to save the Caribbean flamingo from local extinction in the Bahamas.

1971

Supported anti-poaching activities in Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park that reduced poaching of green turtles and their eggs to zero.

WHAT’S GOING WRONG?

Sadly much of the region’s biodiversity is at serious risk of decline. Human activities such as agriculture, infrastructure development, mining and energy projects and destructive fishing are gradually eating away at species’ habitats and causing populations to become more and more fragmented. At the same time, other pressures such as climate change, overfishing, logging and poaching are also taking their toll on plant and animal species.

In the Caribbean, invasive species have had a particularly devastating impact on native wildlife populations, with many island endemics – particularly reptiles – driven to extinction by alien rats and mongooses that were introduced to the islands by European settlers. According to one IUCN report, 75% of known vertebrate extinctions in recent history have taken place in the West Indies.

OUR WORK IN THE REGION

Although we have worked right across this region over the course of our long history, today we are largely focused on the Neotropical realm that encompasses South and Central America and the Caribbean. Our work ranges from protecting key turtle nesting beaches in Nicaragua and clearing invasive predators from Caribbean islands (with astonishing successes for native species), to establishing sustainable community fisheries to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and supporting our long-standing partner in Belize in its work to conserve the Maya Golden Landscape.