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Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly Update June 2012

Bio digestor trench

To start off with this month I can't wait to tell you about progress at our Macaw Project because finally, after more than 3 months of hard work we have our chick (we called it "Bubu") looking out of the nest. For the first days we could only see its beak at the lower edge of the nest-hole but just a few days after our Macaw baby already seemed to have gained enough strength to put out its whole head. Since then we can watch it for a few hours every day while it is looking at the suddenly very big world curiously and waiting for its parents to bring it some food.

We have also observed that the parent's behavior changed as well; they take more time to go for longer flights and so leave the nest and their chick alone for hours. A couple of times it seemed to us like the parents tried to motivate their chick to leave the nest by screaming from another tree for minutes before finally entering the nest. We think it might just be another 2-3 weeks until the chick leaves the nest completely and the staff and volunteers who have been here for a longer time and so saw more of the whole process of the work and the effort we have put into this project are more than excited to see what will happen next in our Macaw-family!

After a long time of planning we finally got to start a new project here in the park which is called Bio-Digester. It is a new bio-system which we will use to gain energy in forms of gases out of recycled resources that we will then use for cooking. The principal idea is that we will build one big tank in which we will collect the waste products out of the bathrooms and the kitchen sewage. The decomposing gases building up in this big tank will be enough to cook our food every day. When we start using this completely organic system we will also stop using chemicals in the kitchen (like soap or chlorine) and replace all of that with biological cleaning products.

So far we already started making a trench that will contain the tubes leading from the bathrooms to where we will eventually build the big main-tank. For us and our volunteers this means a lot of digging and hard work but we have a really strong group of hard working volunteers at the moment that has helped us a lot and we already came very far with our work in this short time! When we will finally start to use the Bio-Digester, Barra Honda will be a pioneer with this new energy system in Costa Rica's national park system.

Repairing the water pipe

After finishing this one of the next plans is also to build a compost tank in which we will put all the kitchen left overs, old leaves and grass that we have to cut along the trails and on the football-field and even the used toilet-paper. After about three months in the tank together with water it will be decomposed far enough to give it to farmers who can use it to fertilize their fields. These projects will bring us one step further to gaining the "blue flag" which in Costa Rica is only given to areas that have a zero-impact on nature and surrounding areas which means that everything that will be bought in the town will be reused, recycled. It would also set a very good example to other national parks in Costa Rica.

At the start of this month we also had our main-trail repaired by huge machines that made the trail flat again so it is easier to drive on it down to the entrance of the park. The men who did the trail were also kind enough to drive with one of the machines over our football field that got a bit bumpy over the years. A few days after we had our first game there, this was as always very fun!

Unfortunately they also broke our water-pipe that supplies water for the whole camp. The act of repairing is not a big deal and doesn't take very long but I think it means a lot to show the volunteers how it is done to repair things like this. At home you would probably just call a mechanic but here in Barra Honda we do these jobs ourselves.

Scarlet Macaw adult and chick

It has rained a lot in the last weeks and months so that the waterfalls will soon have water again so during the last weeks we made new transects for our frog projects close to the big waterfalls where you can find a lot of different frog-species in the wet season. So we will be able to start our frog projects again very soon. We also made new transects for the camera Project: The Camera Project is one of our biggest and longest projects we have here in Barra Honda. At this time we have done it for 3 years already, paused for a few months and now we start in 2012 with the 4th year. Each time the cameras stay out in the forest for one whole week taking pictures of whatever is moving in front of the camera.

If we are lucky we get a pretty good picture of a mammal standing in front of the camera. At the moment we have a friend of Eduardo who is called Deiver making a study on ocelots and margays. We will let him use our sensor cameras for doing the project in our park. So in the coming weeks, maybe months we will put our cameras at places where we have got a picture of ocelots and margays before or where we know that these animals live. So we hope to find out more about the cats and where they are found in the forest!

Lisa Kubik
Assistant Manager
Barra Honda National Park
June 2012

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