One of the centre’s founders, Ricardo Meade, began by giving our small group (there were six of us) some background about the centre, founded in 2005 with a mission of ‘education, rehabilitation, and propagation’. Ricardo and his colleagues take in a wide range of rescued wildlife from many different sources. Some have been found by members of the public, injured, while others were formerly kept as pets, many of whom are still suffering the psychological damage of being treated badly by their owners – especially the capuchins. ESCWC work tirelessly, without any government assistance, to house, feed and rehabilitate any wild animal that falls into their care (with the emphasis on ‘wild’ – there are no domestic dogs or cats at the centre).
Some of the other animals will never be equipped for reintroduction – including some of the hawks, howler monkeys and boas; instead, these individuals are used as ambassadors, engaging visiting school groups or appearing at different outreach events around the island. Ricardo believes that this is one way of rebuilding a connection with nature in our younger generations, who will be the decision-makers and potential conservationists of the future.
I opted to stay in the shade and sketch the extremely tame resident yellow-crested and orange winged parrots – despite a valiant attempt to destroy my paintbrush, the end result was met with avian approval.
Alësha found a proud male turkey, who also proved an excellent subject. Jeffrey and Kamal each produced impressive portfolios of animal portraits, using their skills to fully meet Ricardo’s challenge to capture the wild side of each species, without bars or glass panels – a great achievement! (see TTFNC QB2 2015 for selection of their photos)
As artists, this trip offered a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with many species that ordinarily we would only be able to photograph with a lot of luck and a very long zoom lens, or only have the chance to paint from a photograph. We left feeling impressed and inspired by the excellent work that Ricardo and his team do. For both of these reasons, we hope to return soon.