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Who I was, where I am and who I want to be
José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research    Share

Editor's note: The following is an article by Darisnel Carpio Cardenas, who is working on the Harpy Eagle project in his home area of Darien.

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My name is Darisnel Carpio Cárdenas and I work as an assistant for the Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Program. I started with this program eight years ago, when I was 12 years old. In 2002, I lived in La Chunga, an Embera and Wounaan community located in the Darien Province near the Sambu River. That year, I learned for the first time about the Harpy Eagle through an environmental education talk given by members of The Peregrine Fund. At the time, despite not fully understanding everything, I did imagine myself as being part of this program.

Darisnel with other children during a presentation in 2002.


Due to family reasons, we moved from town to town quite often, and four years later I ran into the same group of people, who were searching for Harpy Eagles in the Mogue community where I was living and attending school. I felt a great deal of admiration for these people, because they were doing something good for a little animal who was just right there, so close to us, and at the same time so threatened by us. In Mogue, I saw the “parabiologists” (as we call the field assistants) together with a “white man” who they called “Arpia” (Jose Vargas) working in the forest during the whole day searching for Harpy Eagle nests.

I still had the strong desire of joining this group, but I was still too young, and my mother would tell me: “Son, you have to study first, and then you can work.” I never really thought I would be able to fulfill my dream, because in Darien there have been many programs that come and go, but they never last long enough. However, two years ago I finished my high school education and applied for a position in this group and here I am now, working in the project of my dreams.

In my current job I do many different tasks, all of which help me improve and learn new things, which is not so easy, since they are new things! I work on the field, organize activities in the city, and the most important thing: I help my people understand the importance of preserving the Harpy Eagle, through education. This last aspect is the hardest, because everyone has a different way of thinking and behaving. So, you need lots of perseverance in order to accomplish significant changes in the behavior and attitude of people. Hard, but not impossible!

Now, thinking back, I see how I was a little boy following a dream and now, as an adult, I have reached that dream. However, it is just one of many goals because, above all, I want to contribute much more to the development of the communities of Darien. For this reason I am enrolled at the university, pursuing a degree in Community Development. I have a lot of support from my teachers, and this program attends to both my job and university responsibilities. This allows me to fulfill my dream, improving as a person and as a professional.

This is a challenge. I wish to complete my university education and make my family (wife and children), parents and my people happy, who all dream of a better Darien. We need to find a way to grow and develop sustainably, working towards the conservation of our environment.

Thank you to The Peregrine Fund for being a fulfiller of dreams of so many people in Darien.


Author: Darisnel Carpio Cárdenas
Edited by: José de Jesús Vargas González

Darisnel 2009

Darisnel gathering data in 2009.

Darisnel and other techs

Darisnel with other technicians and volunteers in 2010.

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