Pancho Mayoral was born in a small fishing village in El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, in Baja, Mexico. A haven for endangered and threatened marine species, the reserve's lagoons are a key calving site for grey whales, a wintering area for many birds and a valuable nesting site for three marine turtle species. But there are few economic opportunities for reserve inhabitants.
Forced to leave school at the age of 14 to help support his family, Pancho resorted to catching endangered turtles. "Sometimes I caught eight or 10 a day in my nets," he says, "and got a very good price."
Things changed for Pancho after graduating from Rare's Nature Guide Training Program in the late 1990s. Having learned conversational English, natural history, interpretation and basic marketing skills, he is now an experienced and well-paid naturalist guide. When he isn't leading kayaking trips in the Gulf of California or whale watching in San Ignacio Lagoon, he works as an environmental educator with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), teaching young people from the U.S. and Mexico about the region's rich natural resources.
Rare believes the challenges facing environmental conservation today are not biological. They are economic, political, and social. To address these challenges, Rare works to inspire conservation of the planet's most threatened and diverse natural areas by enabling people, like Pancho Mayoral, to benefit from their preservation.
How does Rare do it?
By making conservation for -- and by -- the people who inhabit earth's natural treasures, and by making those solutions replicable.
"If we know the world's the important places with regard to protecting the global environment, and we know that the principal threats to these sites are social, political, and economic, we are left with two questions: What methods best address these challenges and how can we take these methods and make them available throughout the world?" explains Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. "Rare designs conservation methodologies that address the human factor. Then we make them replicable and partner with other organizations to make them available them around the world."
The recipe is working. Rare's three main programs -- Rare Pride, Rare Radio, and Rare Enterprises -- are credited with the establishment of new parks and protected areas in Grenada, Dominica, Saint Vincent, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Indonesia and Fiji; new or increased environmental legislation in Saint Vincent, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Rota, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Costa Rica; increased use of family planning in the West Indies; the creation of many small ecotourism businesses in Mexico and Central America; and promotion of more sustainable agricultural practices from Mexico to Indonesia.
Rare Pride borrows consumer marketing techniques to galvanize public support for conservation -- often the missing link to conservation success. The program equips grassroots conservationists with the training and assistance needed to generate immediate results for threatened species and ecosystems. Implemented in 35 countries, over 60 Pride campaigns have turned charismatic flagship species -- like the St. Lucia parrot or the manatee in Belize -- into symbols of local pride.
Rare Radio uses entertainment to tackle the complex social problems affecting both conservation and quality of life. Through locally produced radio soap operas, the program changes public attitudes and behavior on issues ranging from family planning to environmental protection and corruption(find a new one; not corruption). These popular radio shows have been associated with increased family planning, increased environmental awareness, and an increase in social discourse around issues critical to conservation and improved quality of life.
Rare Enterprises uses ecotourism to promote environmental and economic sustainability in fragile natural areas. For cash-strapped parks and protected areas, this means generating new sources of income that can be funneled back into park management and conservation projects. For communities in environmentally sensitive regions, this means creating alternatives to high-impact fishing, logging, and other extractive activities. The multi-faceted program leads entrepreneurs in new business development, trains nature guides, builds low-impact trails, and develops visitor-use plans.
Rare supports over 70 frontline conservationists who lead initiatives in more than 40 countries.
They, in turn, amplify Rare's work by inspiring conservation among millions of local residents, decision-makers, and visitors in their regions.
"One very important thing that Rare did for me," says Pancho Mayoral, "was to open my mind and give me more knowledge about why it's important to take care of our resources. At the same time, Rare gave me an opportunity to have a different job, like guiding. Now, I don't have to catch turtles. Now, when I know some fishermen are catching turtles, I talk to them about why it's important to protect our resources."
The above information was provided by the profiled organization.