What We Need
Our Manatee Rehabilitation Program aims to rehabilitate, where possible, all orphaned and injured manatee found in Belizean waters and return them to the wild. We would not be able to accomplish this without the help of our wonderful volunteer team – who work sun up to sun down (sometimes on shifts through the night), seven days a week. Volunteers are responsible for tasks such as collecting aquatic vegetation to feed to the manatees, cleaning manatee pools, swimming with young manatee calves to provide them with social support, and bottle feeding.
Wildtracks also has a Primate Rehabilitation Program, where we rehabilitate and reintroduce endangered Central American spider monkeys and endangered Yucatan black howler monkeys. Volunteers working with the primates participate in caring for the monkeys throughout their rehabilitation process. Work ranges from very intensive nursery care to a more hands- off approach in our pre-release enclosures. June through September, volunteers may also have the opportunity to participate in some of our primate post-release monitoring activities.
When & Who
What we Provide
Accommodation is basic — shared thatched cabanas (sorry, no air conditioning or fans!), with adjoining bathrooms. However, there is generally a breeze coming off the lagoon, keeping temperatures lower than further inland. The cabanas are fully screened from insects. Volunteers typically have 1 - 3 roommates.
The minimum placement period is 30 days, and the volunteer contribution is US$750 for the first month, and $650 per month for subsequent months - to cover food and admin costs (accommodation is provided free), and which also includes a modest contribution to the rehabilitation centres.
More Services we Offer
Volunteers are sent an information package prior to arrival with additional information on the rehabilitation programs, options for traveling to Sarteneja, a packing list and more. Once here, volunteers are taken through a thorough orientation and training regimen - outlining safety protocols, background information about the focal species and their conservation status, and volunteer expectations. Pick up from the nearby village of Sarteneja is included in the volunteer fee.
Additional Info about Us
Wildlife rehabilitation can be very labour-intensive, particularly with species that require significant social contact and support as babies and juveniles. In a country such as Belize, where financing support from the government is limited, such care can only be provided by volunteers. Wildtracks has a very small salaried staff and relies heavily on its volunteer team.
Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in our howler monkey post-release monitoring from June - September
Wildlife Rehabilitation at Wildtracks is focused on globally Endangered and Vulnerable species, concentrating on manatees and primates – though also caters for other wildlife species on an as-needed basis. It is one of three licensed rehabilitation organizations in Belize, and is mandated by the Forest Department to operate two of the four national rehabilitation programmes:
The Manatee Rehabilitation Centre is managed in partnership with the Forest Department and in collaboration with the Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the National Manatee Working Group. Established in 1999, the Manatee Rehabilitation Centre receives and rehabilitates all orphaned and injured manatees rescued in Belize and, where possible, returns
them to the wild. The Centre has an unequalled record of a 100% survival of all rehabilitated manatees that have been released to date. Working without financial support from Government, the Centre relies on volunteers to provide the day-to-day care of the manatees.
The Primate Rehabilitation Centre was established in late 2010 and caters to both of Belize’s primate species – the Endangered Yucatan black howler and Geoffroy’s (or Central American) spider monkey. Wildtracks is working with the Forest Department to end the illegal trade in pet monkeys in Belize and is having remarkable success in rehabilitation and release– with a 95% post-release survival of the howler monkeys released to date. Like the Manatee Rehabilitation Programme, the Primate Rehabilitation Programme relies on volunteers to provide the day-to-day care of the monkeys.