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Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly Update October 2011

Coati Foot print

October is always a very interesting month in Costa Rica; there are several festivals and national holidays and it gives everyone the chance to learn or participate in celebrating the diversity of Costa Rica.

One of the national days that we took part in this year was “El dia de los culturas” or culture day, which celebrates the diversity of Costa Rica, and the diversity of the world. We celebrated this with a visit to a local school to share our cultures and incorporate some conservation awareness work.

Naturally with volunteers from so many different countries we were able to present many different countries to the school that we visited. Austrians, New Zealanders, Scots, English, French, Germans and of course our Costa Rican staff who are from different sides of the country as well.  The volunteers introduced themselves, the countries where they are from and a little of their native languages, which made the kids laugh a lot in some cases and I’m not 100% sure if they believed we weren’t making it up!

Once the volunteers were finished, the school had its own presentation about the cultures of Costa Rica; they had dances, costumes, plays, speeches and even typical foods and drinks! It was wonderful day for all. We also took the opportunity to speak with the older kids and tell them about the work that we are doing within the park, the investigation projects, why volunteers are here and what they do and why the kids should be aware of conservation in general. All in all it was a successful and enjoyable day.

Culture day presentation

The rainy season this year has been a strange one, most of the heavy rains that we get during the course of the year are related to tropical depressions and hurricanes developing off either coast, so those of you who have followed the hurricane season this year will know and be able to see that we have received A LOT of rain this year due to the fact that there have been many large tropical depressions or small hurricanes instead of a few large ones.

We have had more rain this month than during the entire year up to now! Ok, so half of that is the dry season but still it’s a big number! Rivers have reached bursting point, the ground is heavily saturated and all the plants and trees have grown 10 times quicker! The only bad thing about it was that for a while we forgot that the sky was actually blue - just like being back in England I suppose!

In the last two weeks we have been phoned by five different people in the area asking us to come and rescue snakes from their houses, schools or place of work and release them back into the wild. We responded in all cases and have so far taken three boa constrictors and two coral snakes from areas where they were certain to be killed and released them back into the wild.

Although we understand why the locals do this, we have of course been working hard in all these occasions to teach the people that it’s not necessary to actually kill the snakes at any time, 99% of the time, left alone they will do more good than harm, eating pests and vermin and scaring them from coming back for a long time after. We have been leaving our phone numbers and procedures in snake rescue in all the towns since then so that we can hopefully have even more people phoning us to rescue/save snakes from an otherwise certain death.

In Barra Honda National Park we have a set routine for a lot of activities, certain things need to be done on a regular basis and the days can’t change because of the investigation licences and reports that we have to provide to the government before we even start any work. This doesn’t mean though that we don’t have other projects that start suddenly or new ideas that we want to test out.

Oscar with Boa

This month we have started two different projects, the first has been the collection of animal tracks around the park. We have been out on three different occasions so far and have managed to collect many different types of print includingdeer, coati, agouti,coyote and even a cat print…we have even managed to identify different individuals within each species which we can use to help us identify the population health within the park.

The second project is the recovery of the Panama tree within the area. The Panama tree is a species very important to certain species of tent making bats. The bats fly under the large leaves of this tree and nibble the veins of the leaf so that it drops down more and provides protection from predators and the elements. We have managed to take 40 different shoots from older trees and have planted them into the nursery garden to see what happens. If they proceed to grow healthily then we will repeat the process again for next year on a much larger scale! So fingers crossed.

As always when we begin getting closer to the end of the year we need to start thinking about the future in more detail, plans have been made, reports and licences sent, and hopefully in the next month or two I will be able to provide much more detail on the amazing projects we will have on offer for 2012. This year up till now has been incredible and 2012 is set to be even better!

Richard Munday
Conservation Coordinator
Barra Honda National Park
October 2011

Management Plan, Data & Reports

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