El Refugio De Potosí – A Center for Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Education
13 July 2013
EL REFUGIO DE POTOSI
Mission: Conservation of the flora and fauna of the coastal tropical dry forest region near Zihuatanejo, Jose Azueta, Guerrero, Mexico.
Goals: To increase the awareness and appreciation of the life cycle of the tropical dry forest and native species in the region of Barra de Potosí, Guerrero, Mexico, through preservation, exhibition, reproduction, education and research.
Provide habitat for promotion and protection of local species.
Exhibit the flora and fauna to promote conservation.
Provide and distribute information about the life cycle and biodiversity of local species.
Promote ecological tourism in this region.
Create opportunity for community involvement and economic development.
Establish learning opportunities for students from preschool to university.
Conduct scientific research for the protection of local species.
Provide rescue, treatment, recuperation, and release of wild animals needing sanctuary.
In this region so rich in biodiversity and habitat arrays, there is a dearth of educational opportunities, formal or informal, in the arena of basic life sciences. Though the national curricula include life sciences, the majority of teachers are not prepared to offer the subject and laboratory facilities in the schools are minimal to nonexistent. There are no Natural History Museums, no Science Institutes, Interpretative Centers, no Exploratorium’s for kids and their families to explore. Most have never looked through a microscope, seen a skeleton, handled a snake, touched a tarantula, viewed the wildlife, learned photosynthesis, explored the chain of life, or received information about the environment nor conservation. It is unreasonable to expect people to protect and care for the physical world that they know little about. The longer we are in operation, the further we are reaching to try to provide these very basic experiences especially for school age children. What we have discovered is that adults also are fascinated to explore the life sciences when given an opportunity. Surprisingly for many, their very first opportunity is a visit to El Refugio.
Guests to date: (30 June 2013)
We acknowledge a significant drop in visitors and students this year though the trend has been steadily downward overall. The region in general has experienced the same fall these past years. Both security matters and worldwide changes in economic buoyancy have had notable impacts on national and international tourism. We are struggling to find a route to greater sustainability.
Income: 1,291,454 *
Activities and Projects:
From July 2012 to June 2013, we received 41 schools (the same number as the previous year) for education programs that included hands on workshops, interactive lectures, trivia competitions and explorations of conservation themed messages, guided tours and “animal encounters”. Additionally, the students make a “pledge with nature” and sign a contract that they take back to the school classroom. Ages of students range from preschool through University.
During the year (July 1, 2012- June 30, 2013) we received 4707 visitors. We continue to give guided tours in English and Spanish to our visitors discussing the wildlife of the region. We were voted the by Trip Advisor as the number one recommended activity for visitors to the region.