Founded in 1994 in Aranjuez, in the region of Puntarenas, Natuwa’s principle objective was the rescue, rehabilitation and release back into the wild of injured red macaws (Ara Macao). With the majority of Costa Rica’s registered animal rescue centres unable to provide a permanent home for rehabilitated animals that cannot be released, Natuwa obtained its sanctuary status in 2000 and currently provides a life-term home for 532 animals deemed unsuitable for release due to physical or behavioural problems. The sanctuary is home to various species of macaw, Amazon parrots, parakeets, monkeys as well as cockatoos, peccaries, deer, tapirs, ocelots and jaguars. Natuwa advocate that local community involvement is essential for the conservation of Costa Rica’s wildlife. To increase local engagement, they deliver awareness raising educational talks in schools in the area surrounding the sanctuary.
COVID-19 cut-off Natuwa’s main source of income, visitors, leaving the sanctuary, its staff and all the animals in a precarious situation. The Scheinberg Relief Fund is supporting Natuwa by covering operating costs for 10 months, with the hope that visitor numbers will pick up during the high season of 2021 and economic stability will be re-established. The Scheinberg Relief Fund also stepped in to provide the funds needed to carry out essential infrastructure improvements that were planned to take place during 2020, but due to lack of income had to be postponed. In the words of Natuwa’s Director Rodolfo Orozco, “The Scheinberg Relief Fund came not only to improve the lives of the animals in the Sanctuary but also to bring food to the tables of our community’s families”.