Conservation tourism making an economic impact in Yupukari

Yupukari in Rupununi, Region Nine, is a thriving community that is benefitting economically from its conservation-based tourism product.

Yupukari is one of several communities recently visited by a group of media operatives from leading media houses in Guyana, on a familiarisation tour sponsored by the Government of Guyana.

Delene Lawrence, General Manager of Caiman House

General Manager, Kaiman House Lodge, Delene Lawrence explained to the Department of Public Information (DPI) that Caiman House Research Centre started in 2005.

A lot of work is being done with the Black Caiman population in that part of the country. They are caught, weighed, measured and studied. Then, they are released back into the wild.

Entrance to Caiman House

“We have data that we have been collecting and we have discovered interesting information. We did the digestive system of the caiman…what they eat and also, we did human caiman conflict. And also, tracking to see how far the caiman would go during the high-water season compared to the dry-water season,” Lawrence said.

Another aspect of the conservation work being done at the research station has to do with replenishing the turtle population, which is a favourite delicacy for the Macushi people who live in Yupukari and surrounding communities.

The dining area

“A lot of riverain communities tend to use the animal as a source of food. They use the meat, the eggs…and the number of these turtles was decreasing that is why the community decided to look into the project to see what we can do to get more turtles in the wild,” she said.

Researchers and other visitors can occupy one of several cabins that are located at the research station.

Some craft items on display

“Tourism for the community is one of the main economic activities that would benefit a lot of other communities, not just us but other communities. We have been living in the community for more than a thousand years now, and now especially through the research, people are seeing that there are a lot of things that can benefit the community directly or indirectly, through conservation,” Lawrence said.

Baby turtles that were bred to be released into the wild

She is pleased with the exposure that the familiarisation visit will give to the community and help in their tourism efforts.

The village also boasts a craft shop with the work of the Wabbani Crafters. More efforts are also currently being made to expand the crafters’ group to include persons from other areas.

Media Operatives on Tour at Yupukari
Baby turtles that were bred to be released into the wild
Caiman skeletons on display in the lodge

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