Caligo Ventures is more than a booking agent; we are a key conservation partner of the Asa Wright Nature Centre, supporting all aspects of the Centre’s mission.
Promoting conservation through education and research is among the top priorities of the non-profit Asa Wright Nature Centre. In addition to hosting guests from around the world, a wide variety of programs are designed to increase the awareness and support of local people for conservation of the native wildlife, to work in partnership with institutional partners, and to facilitate sustainable development in the communities surrounding the Nature Centre.
AWNC has traditionally been a leader with respect to conservation education in Trinidad and Tobago, through support of environmental publications, posters, school tours, and community outreach programs. And AWNC supports and promotes primary tropical ecological research, and citizen science at the William Beebe Tropical Research Station, by its staff and visitors, and through collaboration with other research institutions. A sampling of current conservation projects follows.
- Preserve and manage 1200 acres of land in Trinidad’s Northern Range, which protects wildlife and removes potential threats of hunting, unsustainable agriculture, and squatting.
- Provide nesting boxes on trees along the driveway, creating more habitat for cavity nesting species.
- Maintain the William Beebe Research Station as a tropical research facility.
- Collect bird species data. On site observations are recorded and submitted to eBird, establishing a valuable dataset to identify population numbers, phenology of breeding, trends, linkages, etc. AWNC visitors are key participants in collecting new data for eBird.
- Monitor Oilbird site and population. Oilbird counts have been conducted on a monthly basis for over 10 years to ensure that AWNC’s Dunstan Cave populations are stable.
- Explore through science. As an example, a recent partnership tagged six Oilbirds with GPS units at Dunston Cave, providing a new understanding of the movements of Oilbirds throughout Trinidad.
- Keep a watchful eye. In collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Earthwatch Institute, camera traps installed along AWNC’s trails produce valuable information on local mammalian fauna and their times of peak activity.
- Zero in on sensitive species. Another partnership with Earthwatch Institute helps with studies of the Ocelot populations in Trinidad, to increase knowledge of this species and its behavior. Ocelots are the only species of wildcat found in Trinidad and are very unique in an ecological context.
- Learn about all taxa. Annual collaboration with the NGO, Trinibats, to survey bat populations over the last 3 years using mist nets on the AWNC’s Discovery Trail have recorded 22 species on site to date.
- Understand biodiversity. In collaboration with UWI research students, two insect survey sites (using malaise traps) along AWNC’s Discovery Trail have produced an initial research paper on the insects found on site.
- Inventory and protect resources through applied research. In collaboration with colleagues at the University of West Indies, Oxford University and the Wildlife Conservation Society, AWNC staff is developing an ecological inventory of the Aripo Heights, undertaking a comparative study of the Arima Valley biota compared with William Beebe’s study from the mid-twentieth century, and creating a habitat restoration and monitoring programme for the Arima and Aripo Valleys.
- Assess the option to restore key species. Reintroduction of red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) to the Arima Valley may provide greater ecological diversity in the valley, and increase the important ecological service of seed dispersal for the plants this herbivorous species consumes.
- Create meaningful connections between children and their environment. AWNC’s Valley Schools Outreach programme offers interactive sessions on science and environmental topics that are taught in school with over 900 students engaged last year alone. Staff and volunteers have reached 18 schools within the Arima Valley since 2008.
- Support annual summer camps during the July/August holiday period. Centre naturalists engage children in nature exploration on the Discovery Trail through bird, mammal, and insect watching and craft making using recyclable materials.
You and your organization can participate and support important conservation work through the Asa Wright Nature Centre – contact Caligo Ventures for details.
Photo credits: Banner: Golden-olive Woodpecker, Roger Neckles