History and Mission of Domitila
Located along the western shore of Lake Cocibolca in the shadow of Volcán Mombacho, Domitila Private Wildlife Reserve has the distinction of being Nicaragua's first private protected area-established in March 2001. The reserve is part of a larger property originally acquired by Captain Eulogio Morales in 1881. Since then, the property has remained in the hands of his descendents, including Domitila, which is owned by Silvio and María Jose Mejia.
For almost a century, the site had one of the most varied and complete collections of precious woods and wildlife in the region. While the property within Domitila is predominantly tropical dry forest, there are other ecosystems represented including savannah, floodplain, estuary, and the lake-attracting many different wildlife species. Silvio Mejia's ancestors appreciated the rich biodiversity of the area, living and working the Mecatepio homestead in harmonious coexistence. His family operated a dairy farm for many years. During the 1980's, a turbulent time in Nicaragua's history, the dairy farm ceased operations. The forests and wildlife within the property were subjected to a number of abuses, damaging wildlife habitat and causing some species of animals and plants to become endangered or extinct.
When the country's political situation calmed down in the early 1990's, the Mejias decided to resume the family's original land conservation ethic and conserve what was left of the site's natural resources. They also set out to restore their property to its original state, establishing reforestation and conservation projects with the cooperation of area residents. These projects are providing impoverished local inhabitants with opportunities to improve their standard of living. Domitila has employed local residents to help construct buildings and trails, serve as guides and cooks, and maintain and protect the property. Residents have also been involved in projects such as organic agriculture, kitchen gardening, making handicrafts for sale, and tree farming.
The Mejias have been the driving force behind a new non-profit organization, which is raising funds to conserve the biological riches of the reserve and foster sustainable development in surrounding communities. They are working to conserve biodiversity by committing their land as a wildlife refuge and as a center for scientific investigation of the region's flora and fauna.
A strategy of sustainable development is being pursued to educate local residents about using natural resources in a sustainable manner while at the same time providing opportunities to improve their standard of living through ecotourism.
about the organization and its mission can be obtained by contacting the Mejias.