Encouraged by my experience volunteering abroad in Thailand, I volunteered at another sanctuary to help rehabilitate wildlife and promote conservation, this time in Guatemala. During my winter holiday, I worked at ARCAS, a non-profit NGO dedicated to protecting Guatemalan wildlife. During my time there, I cared for dozens of macaws and other birds, spider and howler monkeys, and learned about the greatest threats to the local species. Due to their beautiful plumage, many tropical birds are cruelly captured and sold into the illegal pet trade, fueled my demand from countries like the US. This industry not only quickly depletes their numbers in the wild and endangers the population, but also has huge impacts on the local ecosystems.
Luckily, organizations like ARCAS work everyday to rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals seized from illegal poachers. Individuals that are unable to be released serve as animal ambassadors for their species, educating local and international audiences that come to the center. I feel immensely grateful for my experiences there and all that I learned from the incredibly dedicated volunteers and staff. Although conservation work is often grueling, frustrating, and grossly underfunded, I was very much inspired by their unrelenting passion and drive, despite the immense odds.