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The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) recently announced that it has launched an emergency fundraising campaign on behalf of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) that faces a year-end budgetary crisis potentially impacting the organization’s efforts to preserve and protect the Galapagos Islands.
IGTOA, with the support of an anonymous donor, will contribute $2 for every $1 donated via a special campaign donation portal before Jan. 1, 2015, up to $25,000.
The Foundation is the oldest, largest and most important scientific research organization in the Galapagos Islands. Since 1959 staff, researchers and visiting scientists have spearheaded some of the most ambitious and successful Galapagos conservation initiatives, including the first captive breeding program for giant tortoises. (Once teetering on the brink of extinction, these iconic reptiles can now be seen in large numbers in the wild throughout the Galapagos archipelago.) It also helped establish the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the world’s fourth largest, and helped create a biosecurity agency to stop unwanted species from entering the Islands.
According to Foundation officials, the year-end budgetary shortfall was preceded by the soaring cost of running its research station and by the forced closure by municipal authorities in July of the Foundation’s newly expanded and upgraded gift shop.
Swen Lorenz, Executive Director, says, “We’ve worked tirelessly since November on a global fundraising campaign to avert bankruptcy. While there has been an outpouring of financial support from around the world, we still need additional funding to make our organization sustainable by the end of the year. We’re grateful to IGTOA and its member companies for their willingness to step up and help us get through this difficult time.”
The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most pristine oceanic archipelagos and home to hundreds of species found nowhere else on Earth. The islands’ unique biodiversity, famously inspiring Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, face a variety of threats, including invasive species, illegal fishing and poaching, and the impacts of population growth and development.
Lorenz says the current budgetary shortfall could impact some of the CDF’s most important initiatives, including a captive breeding program for the critically endangered mangrove finch, as well as efforts to eradicate invasive insects and plants that threaten the iconic, endemic species of the archipelago.
“The CDF’s importance to scientific research and conservation in the Galapagos can’t be overstated,” says Matt Kareus, Executive Director of IGTOA. “Our member companies believe that the Galapagos tourism industry has an obligation to help ensure that the CDF has the funding it needs to fulfill its critical mission. Our goal is to raise $25,000 from donors before the end of the year and provide an additional $50,000 in matching donations to the CDF.”
IGTOA has provided financial support to the CDF since 1996. In addition to matching donations in the month of December, many of IGTOA’s member companies are aggressively promoting the new fundraising campaign through email and social media outreach to their past guests.
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