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Wildlife Rescue in the Guatemalan Rain forest

August 1st - August 8th, 2017

This project is situated in a forested 45-hectare protected area on the shores of Lake Petén Itza. Its priority is the welfare, rehabilitation and reintroduction of wild animals that are received there. Volunteers live in a spacious two-story wooden building with open, screened walls, situated in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest with comfortable wooden bunk beds, "western" shower and toilet facilities and US-standard 110V electricity. Volunteers eat and socialize at a separate kitchen/dining room, and there is a floating dock for late afternoon swims in the lake. The project boat makes special trips into Flores twice per week for volunteers that want to get dinner, drink a few beers or go to the internet cafe.

Depending on the time of year, the project hosts anywhere between 5 and 25 international volunteers, including veterinary students looking to gain practical experience working with tropical animals, graduate students carrying out research in wildlife management and rehabilitation, and backpack travelers (mochileros) who want to contribute their time and energy to the conservation of Guatemalan wildlife.

The center gives these volunteers the hands-on opportunity to work with many beautiful and endangered tropical animals such as scarlet macaws, mealy parrots, kinkajous, spider and howler monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis, margays and jaguars.

Getting There

We will fly into the city on the island of Flores, where we will be picked up from the airport and taken to the rescue center by boat. We will spend 7 days at the rescue center and will be taken on an overnight trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. We will be dropped off at the Flores airport for our return flight home.

What will I be doing?

Volunteers are expected to work as a team. The day will begin early as the animals must be on their natural schedules and eat early in the day. Rest and relaxation will take place later in the day during higher temperatures. A typical day at the Rescue Center might consist of the following:

6:30 - Animal Husbandry and Care
8:00 - Breakfast
9:00-11:00 - Chores
11:00 - Animal Husbandry
12:00 - Chores
1:00 - Lunch
2:00 - Animal Husbandry
3:00 - Individual Projects, Rest, Trips to Flores, Swimming, Hiking
6:00 - Dinner & Social Time
9:00 - Bedtime

Much of the work takes place in the quarantine clinic and cages, where recently arrived animals need immediate attention, special diets and medicines. Parrot chicks must be fed with syringes by hand. Baby monkeys still in shock and depressed by their separation from their mother must be cuddled and fed by hand.

In addition to the regular daily feeding and care of the animals, there are special ongoing activities in which volunteers can participate. These activities include:

- Construction of cages or extra buildings
- Gathering of wild foods for the animals
- Research into the wild diets of the animals
- Participating in additional environmental education activities and community projects
- “Enrichment” of cages and enclosures by adding toys, perches and other stimuli that help the animals in their rehabilitation process

Volunteers may have the exciting chance to participate in the release of one of the animals back into the wild. This will depend on the timing of your visit and the length of your stay at the project.  In general, volunteers are expected to become a part of the team and to take an integral part in the day-to-day operations of the project. Barring physical limitations, all volunteers can take an equal part in performing all tasks regardless of background, training or educational level. At certain times there is a lot of work, particularly during the breeding and trafficking season (April-July); during other periods there can be a lot of time off. Likewise, the workload is dependent on how many volunteers are at the center.

Accommodation and Food

Volunteers live in a spacious two-story wooden building with open, screened walls, situated in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest with comfortable wooden bunk beds, "western" shower and toilet facilities, and US standard 110V electricity. In addition, there is internet and cell service at the project. There is a separate game room, and there is a floating dock for late afternoon swims in the lake.

Volunteers eat and socialize in a separate kitchen/dining room. Meals at the project are delicious and healthy, making use of the Guatemalan staples of hand-made corn tortillas, black beans and eggs, as well as vegetables, meats and fruits. Many of the volunteers are vegetarian, and their dietary needs will be catered to. Bottled water is available for drinking.

What is provided in this package?

- Round-trip flight to Flores, Guatemala
- Transportation from the Flores airport to the project
- Lodging and food at the project for 7 days
- Volunteer fees (these help keep the project going and often help locals learn about and practice conservation methods)
- Transportation and lodging for a 2-day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal
- Transportation back to the airport

Volunteers will be responsible for a deposit of $40 for their room keys and bed sheets at the project, which will be returned upon departure.

What do I need to Bring?

- A passport valid for the duration of your stay
- Travel insurance covering the duration of your stay
- Cash for personal spending
- Mosquito repellent
- Mosquito net
- Antibiotic cream

There is malaria and dengue fever in the Peten, but by using repellent and mosquito nets, the chances of contracting either is rare. To be safe, please check with your doctor or an international health clinic before the trip. In case health issues do arise, there is a hospital and several private clinics in the Flores/Santa Elena/San Benito area. A visa is not required for Americans or Europeans who will be in the country for less than 90 days.

What else do I need to know?

Drugs and alcohol are not permitted on the project. Volunteers are welcome to drink during trips into town, but we ask that they do not bring alcohol back to the project site.

Depending on how well-staffed the project is, you may share your dorm room with up to three other volunteers. As everyone uses the same facilities, please keep yourself, your clothes, and your living space as clean as possible. If you find washing your clothes at the “pila” too bothersome, there is laundry service available. Please don’t bring food into your rooms as it attracts rats, ants and other critters which can destroy mattresses, screening and furniture (and generally make things unpleasant!).

Don’t waste water! Please try not to waste clean water, as it is a scarce commodity. Part of the ARCAS experience is learning to live sustainably within limits.

Volunteer work is a two-way street: the project and the wild animals it supports benefits from the assistance of the volunteer, while the volunteer gains valuable knowledge and technical skills. At the rescue center, you will have an opportunity to experience firsthand the difficulties of conserving endangered species in a developing country. The center may encourage your imagination and creativity in coming up with ideas for better caring for the animals in the resource-poor conditions that exist in Guatemala.

You will also spend time working with local Guatemalans. Not only will there be an exchange of ideas and culture, but also an understanding of how to better communicate with another culture that is in the process of defining what conservation means for them.

Price: Starts at $2200 (including Airfare)

Prices are based on flights from Western USA and are subject to change based on location, airfare and exchange rates.

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