Monday, February 2, 2015

Fundraising for manatees in Belize

The manatee hugger is back! ...Actually she never goes away. You knew that, right?

This time I am announcing a month-long campaign to try to help raise money for the rescue and protection of manatees along the coast of Belize. Two years ago, when I raised money for a manatee tracking unit for Belize, I first became aware of a manatee expert who is truly a great force for the endangered species. His name is Jamal Galves. Searching for manatees in Belize, Jamal’s photo comes up often, often with a rescued orphaned baby manatee in his arms.

Recently Jamal won a prestigious award from Oceana Belize, which named him an Ocean Hero. I dare you to watch this video and not feel the power of this one young man’s dedication. 

I found the page Protect Our Manatees Belize on Facebook and asked what kind of support or help I could offer. Jamal himself got back to me with an urgent fundraiser for manatees through the organization Sea to Shore Alliance. Here is part of the text of the page set up for Protect Our Manatees Belize.

The “Protect Our Manatees Belize” project, coordinated by Jamal Galves, is organizing a fundraiser to help save our manatees. Mr. Galves, the Belize Manatee Program Coordinator for Sea to Shore Alliance (S2S) works in collaboration with the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) to protect threatened coastal species and their habitat, in particular the West Indian manatee. Belize has the highest known density of Antillean manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, in the world. Unfortunately, because of rapidly increasing coastal development, human related manatee deaths are rapidly increasing.  Boat kills and habitat destruction are currently the major threats to the survival of manatees in Belize. Research conducted by S2S have been used by the Belize government to establish sanctuaries, speed zones and other actions that help ensure the survival of manatees in this remarkable country.

With the increase in report of manatee strandings (from 11 in 2009 to 30 in 2013) and the lack of the necessary resources our response to these stranding has been limited.  To try and address these glitches we are organizing a fundraiser with hopes to raise enough funds to purchase a truck and a small boat that will aid us greatly in our response to the growing numbers of reports. Securing these vehicles for the Protect Our Manatees Belize program will alleviate the dependency on others to transport a manatee to the rehabilitation center, or having to wait for someone to offer their boat to respond to a sick or injured manatee in the event of an emergency rescue.  All these instances require rapid and timely response, which can determine the difference in rescuing a sick/injured animal or towing away a dead carcass.

You can play a huge role in helping us to make a difference for these gentle giants.

The equipment to quickly rescue a manatee—Is that so much to ask? I urge you to donate directly to this cause on the gofundme page or through my youcaring page set up for the purpose, or to find vintage clothing from the web store or Etsy shop. 25% of your purchase will go to this fundraiser during the month of February.

Jamal Galves and his friends are counting on us!

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