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ARCAS is a Guatemalan non-profit organization formed in 1989 to build a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated by the Guatemalan government from the black market. Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown into one of the largest and most complex rescue centers in the world, receiving between 300 and 600 animals of more than 40 species per year.

Since the establishment of the Rescue Center, ARCAS has branched out into other very necessary activities including environmental education, protected areas management, marine turtle conservation, sustainable community development, ecotourism and reforestation. At its Pacific coast site of Hawaii, it manages the most productive of the 21 sea turtle hatcheries in Guatemala, rescuing nearly 40,000 olive ridley and leatherback eggs per year.

Also in Hawaii, it is working with the Guatemalan government to establish a 4,000 hectare protected area focused on the local mangrove wetlands. It carries out reforestations of 2 to 40 hectares per year in different sites throughout the country. Its Environmental Education Department reaches out to over 8000 children per year throughout the country.

The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust and other conservation and animal protection organizations provided financial support to ARCAS in December 2007 to purchase the El Salado Farm, a 25 hectare farm of mangrove and dry tropical forest ecosystems in the Hawaii area of the Pacific coast of Guatemala. 

This land is used to create a community-managed buffer wildlife reserve to act as a buffer zone between the mangrove wetlands of the proposed Hawaii Protected Area (HPA) to the south and the rapidly encroaching sugar cane industry to the north (see attached satellite image).  The majority of the purchased land will be reforested with native trees and a small portion will be set aside for subsistence organic farming for local residents.  The reforested portion together with the mangrove forests to the south will create a community-managed wildlife reserve that will be used for birdwatching, environmental education, research and other activities.  Ecotourism and organic farming will give local residents economic alternatives to unsustainable resource use practices of the past such as sea turtle egg poaching and mangrove wood logging, and will ameliorate the loss of income due to reduced access to farmland as a result of the expansion of sugar cane cultivation.

In order to expand the scope of HSWLT’s influence and effectiveness for the benefit of wildlife, we frequently share funds, expertise and HSWLT’s humane philosophy with other organizations.  All HSWLT shared efforts are rooted in our commitment to providing wildlife with safe places to live, forever, by assisting other organizations that share our concerns for wildlife and habitat. 


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