“Every life is sacred, but Pete has dedicated his life fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.” Earthrace Conservation
On December 26th while scouting for wildlife traffickers in the Costa Rican jungle, Earthrace conservationist Pete Bethume was bitten by one of the deadliest snakes in Central America, the fer-de-lance viper. More than two weeks later, Pete is still in recovery. The outstanding care that he received in the hospital saved his life, and continues now as outpatient medical treatment.
Fer-de-lance fangs deliver a toxin that races through bodily tissues and attacks blood vessels, capillaries, and muscle cells, killing tissues and quickly incapacitating both prey and potential predators. The powerful strike is lightning quick.
Bethume barely made it to the hospital in time.
Once Pete was struck, he and his companions had only a four-hour window to bushwhack through the thick jungle two miles to the Coast Guard boat that waited to take him to a hospital. Any longer than that and his chances to survive would have become minimal, and amputation almost certain.
“It took us three and a half hours, and by the end I could barely keep my eyes open,” said Pete from his hospital bed shortly after the incident.
His large, soft, brown eyes narrowed as he spoke of the challenges and the fear that faced the group as they slid down creeks and navigated small waterfalls in the dense jungle. The pain had been excruciating as the venom traveled from his calf up to his groin, and towards the end he could barely stay awake.
“I thought this Kiwi was a goner,” he said with a smile as he talked about how his crew of ex-navy men attempted to suck the poison out of his leg, how the terrain made carrying him next to impossible, and how they kept him going.
“Josh, Jack and Alvaro did an amazing job getting us out before dark,” the New Zealander continued. “Towards the end all I wanted to do was sleep. And Jack was like “Come on, ya lazy bastard. Move that skinny ass.”
“The reality is that our campaigns take us to difficult places and sees us taking on criminal gangs that are morally bankrupt and with deep pockets. And I’m not complaining about them. I’m rather highlighting the fact that this is the cause that my team and I choose to fight for, and we know the risks.”
During the entire ordeal, Bethune’s seemingly innate positivity and humor seldom left, and he gave daily updates which were posted on Facebook. Now released from the hospital he continues to post the updates from a ship that serves as headquarters for the work he and the crew are commissioned to do by the Costa Rican government.
Healing from the snake bite has been slow, and expenses continue to mount.
Please consider making a donation no matter how small; whether for the valuable work done by Earthrace Conservation, or simply in honor of the dreamers everywhere who, like Bethune, work tirelessly to make the world a better place, who go where we can’t, who partner with local authorities to protect what little is left of fragile ecosystems.
You can support this wounded wildlife warrior by donating to the GoFundMe page:
“During the Covid pandemic, all non-profits are struggling as you can imagine. To offset the huge medical cost of this tragedy, we at Earthrace Conservation are requesting donations. If there are any excess funds they will be used to fund protecting Costa Rica’s wildlife.
We are trying to be as conservative and sensible with this medical bill estimate… but right now we have no full idea of the final costs.
Every life is sacred but Pete has dedicated his life fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves. It’s without doubt that he deserves the best care possible and for us to fight this alongside him!”
“Pete argues that we can all lead extraordinary and meaningful lives, but the key is to find and stand for a cause you truly believe in. From serving months in a maximum-security prison for fighting Japanese whalers to saving endangered red monkeys from poachers in the Amazon, Pete Bethune’s story will thrill, move, and inspire you.
Pete Bethune takes conservation to the extreme. As the founder of Earthrace Conservation, Pete is a world record holder, circling the globe four times on his powerboat, Earthrace.
His missions have seen him shot at, run over by a Japanese security vessel, incarcerated in Libya and Japan, and held under armed guard in a Guatemalan Military camp. As the producer of his show ‘The Operatives’, Pete runs a team of former special forces operatives to combat wildlife poaching, smuggling and illegal fishing in Africa, Asia, and Central America.
He also works closely with government enforcement units, training them in coastal surveillance and hostile vessel takedown. At the heart of it all, Pete is a ship captain with an environmental edge.” From Find a cause worth dying for, TedX Aukland.