If you visit Tigre Salvaje, right on the border of Costa Rica in Panama, you’ll be welcomed into Dave Teichmann’s house, where he’ll show you his handwritten notes from his decades of turtle conservation research. You have the option to camp or stay in a bedroom attached to his house and will likely run into the enormous troop of capuchin monkeys swinging through the trees.
Dave has no formal training or grant/government support for his endeavors, but spends his time, effort, and money dedicated to the cause. He regularly arranges for educational school trips to visit his preserve, but as he states on his website, anyone is welcome to come. “If you show up,” the information page states, “we will find space for you.”
Every night he sets out to go on patrol to ensure that poachers are not disturbing turtles nesting on the beach. Dave has constructed his own hatchery after coming across many dead mothers and babies. Located right on the beach, this hatchery safe guards Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Green turtle eggs until they’re ready to hatch. During a visit, turtles may hatch and scuttle to the shore right in front of your eyes.
A visit to Tigre Salvaje is a truly unique, off-the-beaten-path adventure that gives you a sharper look into turtle conservation efforts in Panama and how one individual can have an incredible impact. Dave’s meticulous note-taking is a wonder in and of itself.
Know Before You Go
Go during nesting season (April-October). You can email Dave directly and ask him if he's in the area. Sometimes, he heads to the US Virgin Islands for extended periods of time, particularly during the off season.
Dave's property can only reached by hiking down a muddy road to the coast and then down the beach - about a half-hour walk.