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Parque Nacional Del Este, Dominican Republic

 
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This national park is situated on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The park’s 190,267 acre intact coastal ecosystem is prime terrestrial and marine habitat that provides nesting sites for four species of turtles: loggerhead, green, hawksbill and leatherback. Manatees, bottle nose dolphins and whales are seen offshore. Funds raised will support ecological monitoring, research and protection for the park.

The health of the Nacional Parque del Este plays a critical role in sea turtle conservation. Two scientific research projects have confirmed successful nesting rates of hawksbill turtles on the southern beaches of Saona Island. Recently, scientists from the University of Valencia were able to track down, for the first time via satellite, the route of an adult female hawksbill turtle that previously nested in the park. In addition, thanks to the great efforts of a local conservationist, the northern beaches of Saona Island are being patrolled weekly, and threatened nests are being incubated successfully. Furthermore, as part of an ongoing effort to raise the conservation awareness of future generations, young turtles are set free by local schoolchildren.

Uncontrolled access to the park by fishermen has put an extreme strain on populations of snapper, grouper, conch and lobster. Illegal hunting has also contributed to the extinction of vertebrates such as the Caribbean monk seal. Luxury hotels outside the park's borders are indicators of the expanding tourism industry that increases pressure on coral reefs and other natural resources.

Sections of the Park are off limits to the public to help protect the last intact mangrove forest in the park, spawning grounds for fish and mollusks and habitat for the only frigate bird nesting colony in the Dominican Republic.

Lobster, conch and finfish fisheries are being monitored by local organizations as a way to gauge the health of the marine environment. In addition, "no take" seasons are enforced to allow species breeding and recovery time from fishing pressure. To reduce anchor damage to coral reefs, SaveNature.Org and its partners has raised funds for the installation of environmentally sensitive mooring buoys at designated sites in the park.

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