From Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Galapagos Conservation Trust
I write this letter from my home ‘office’ having been in contact with Norman Wray, the Minister for the Governing Council of Galapagos. I imagine the far-flung Islands might feel very distant as we all try to cope with the global health crisis. I certainly never imagined when I began my role as CEO in 2015 that I would need to rapidly adjust fieldwork and science programmes, support our team on the Islands as they battle to continue vital conservation work from home, and do all I can to reassure our committed staff that our mission will continue. I know you care deeply for the unique, wondrous species such as the Galapagos giant tortoise, blue-footed boobies, vermilion flycatchers and hammerhead sharks. Knowing you share our passion to protect these land and sea animals brings me great strength at these troubled times and I write to ask if you can make a donation and lend your support to the unique wildlife of Galapagos.
If you have been lucky enough to travel to Galapagos, can I ask you to remember the exquisite beauty of the Islands? Perhaps you recall the sight of huge frigate birds on the wing or marine iguanas basking on the sands? Norman tells me that the Islands are desperately quiet. With tourists evacuated and the movements of locals restricted, silence has descended. Although on the surface, this feels good for the wildlife, the reality is very different. Increasing economic pressures brings the risk of increased illegal fishing and poaching. Restriction of movement means critical fieldwork that we were carrying out has had to stop. But our scientists and educators will not be stopped. They – like you – know our work has great value and must continue.
Our vital work continues. At the beginning of the year, Francesca was painstakingly removing the larvae of an invasive fly from the mangrove finch nestlings which threaten the baby birds from reaching adulthood. She is now analysing this data and we must maintain our support to get her back out into the field as soon as it is safe to do so. Anne has been quickly creating worksheets for children, and videos and radio messages to communicate the value of the unique Galapagos species to the Islands long-term future in a bid to stop people from turning to poaching. When the restrictions came in, Mariana was leading beach cleans with her team to collect the plastic bottles, fishing nets, and toothbrushes that pose such a threat to sea lions, flightless cormorants and so many other species. This work must go on. Efforts are now focussed on mapping the movement of the plastics through the ocean so we can understand their journey better, and improve our chances of making Galapagos Plastic Pollution Free again.
All this work is vital and urgent in the race to protect species from extinction, and as I look at our finances and see our income under threat from cancelled donations and events, I fear for our ability to keep our projects going. Will you stand with me and the team in the Galapagos Islands and make a gift today and help us to do all we can to protect the unique and wondrous species of the Enchanted Isles? Your support will enable us to continue critical conservation work at an unprecedented and incredibly challenging time. As a small charity, the support of each, and every supporter will make a real difference and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment to protecting the unique species of Galapagos that bring us such joy and wonder. They need your help more than ever.
Thank you for your loyal support of our work. I wish you and your loved ones the best of health during these uncertain times.
Galapagos Conservation Trust
Please make your gift today and play your part in conserving the wonder of Galapagos.
Your donations will be unrestricted towards vital conservation work carried out across the Galapagos Islands.