Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly - Update January - February 2016
The year 2016 started with the ATBI project. This project has created more than 100 records of 17 species including nocturnal mammals, arachnids, fungi, dragonflies and reptiles organized in a detailed database which could be included in the future in a global database of organizations or countries who use the same methodology.
The project consists in carrying out intensive searches on the trails which include the groups mentioned above. A daytime and an evening session takes place during the month, volunteers participate actively showing staff members where are the individuals, writing data and taking pictures of the species that are necessary for a good identification.
The research project of cave bats that began in 2015 will continue throughout 2016. For this year we decided to expand the number of caves in research passing from four caverns to the total number of caves occupied by bats (which until now still uncertain).
We have bought a new harp trap. This trap makes the job easier as it has been develop to catch bats in places where there are big concentrations, mostly for Taponeada and Pozo Hediondo caves where populations are as big as twelve thousand bats, we require to apply this type of methods because it reduces the possibilities to hurt any specimen.
The harp trap consists in two metallic posts which support a double line of fishing strings. Strings are in most cases difficult two detect for bats, even when using echolocation (the sonar system). When bats try to fly throughout the lines they fell down in to a special bag which contains and keep save the invidious until we go to pick them out.
This project has been very successful until now, isn´t just because the opportunity to have a look form close of this amazing group of animals. Is a new world of discovering is a pile of information that we can use for education and most important, it means a new tool for conservation and management of the species.
Bird survey still standing since 2014. The idea is to identify the birds that live in different ecosystems of Barra Honda National Park, determining their population status, defining when the arrival and departure of migratory birds is.
This year we added the study of nocturnal birds, of which we have little knowledge for the protected area. We have already made a series of sessions in which we found 6 species of nocturnal birds. We expect that the number of species will grow significantly as the year progresses.
During the month of January, a survey was done to find the entrance of the cave known as "Chorotega". The volunteer Monja Bähler accompanied us during exploration. The reference that we had was that the cave is located in the highlands of Cerro Barra Honda, approximately 400 m southeast of the cave "La Cuevita" (used touristically for children).
After three hours of searching, we found the beautiful cave entrance, with an opening of 25 m long by 3 meters high bet on a wall of limestone that rises about 30 m above the plateau. The search resulted in the confirmation of the occupation of a population of bats that have not yet identified. Now we have the opportunity to start open studies with bats in this cave in cooperation with volunteers.
Camera traps came back seriously to create a better understanding of the terrestrial mammals in Barra Honda National Park. After four years of camera trapping studies to create records of the mammal fauna, mostly the endangered species, we did a little break to write this new project. What’s about?
Camera traps are monitoring the mammal activities during day time and night time 24/7. The idea is to compare the weather data and some specific aspects of the habitat with their ecological behavior. The more we now about mammals, the more we can do for their conservation, is why we want to keep studying their ecology for a few years.
Most people like this project because you are able to see the results very quick and because is always very exciting to observe what we caught in the pictures. But the most important thing is to know that we are doing this to create knowledge and help the Barra Honda fauna.
Clearing El Pozo Trail
El Pozo trail is an important way which goes directly to a primary forest spot. This trail works as a firebreak (a line in the forest without vegetation to stop the spread of fire) but also is so necessary for investigation, it has spring water and obviously many animals visit this place in search of this resource.
The Volunteers help last two weeks to clear the trail from leafs, branches, and small vegetation, now the trail looks in very good conditions.
Population status of the Butterflies from Barra Honda National Park
Butterflies are one of the must studied groups in Barra Honda National Park. At this moment we are comparing the weather data whit the butterfly’s activity in the Protected Area. The effect of climate change on butterfly populations is poorly known, in this way we are creating information for long terms species preservation, but it could be very use full for education.
Scarlet Macaw Project
In the return of the scarlet macaw project, we are focusing our efforts on defining the population size and the flaying patrons of the invidious. The first account of the year has been conducted during February 24. We divided the group in three sub groups, trying to cover the National Park in 360° to watch where the macaws are coming from, where they are going and how many they are.
In April we are going to start searching for macaw nest to study and count them in a better way. For the moment we have seen three macaws of a population estimated as 14 individuals, they are difficult to see but when they appear everyone becomes very happy, their amazing colors and their general aspect sum to the point that they are critically endangered, makes them very attractive for the people.
Maintenance is a very significant element in our job. We can’t keep doing conservation if our buildings are falling down. The first week of February was particularly windy, windy enough to stop working on field jobs because it was dangerous to receive a hit of a branch in our heads or worse. We use most of the job time of that week to work on buildings maintenance; as for example, laundry, office and kitchen clean up, put in order the work shop, watering the nursery garden, recycling and some other camp duties.
The rest of the weeks of January and February we did the camp duties at least once a week. The volunteers know how necessary is maintenance and they are agree to help in this issue, of course if ever we can go to do research after words.
This is a project which is just starting, after a long period of planning and developing the best way to do it we feel very proud to show the first results of this project during the year. Until now we have count a total of 85 monkeys of 6 howler monkey troops.
This project pretend to study the howler monkeys in long terms (about 10 years), with the idea of detect any fluctuation in the howler monkey population in the National Park. But also we want to study some aspects poorly known about their behavior, their home range and make projections for the future in 100 years too.
Volunteers feel very enthusiastic, mostly because monkeys are very friendly animals and very interesting at the same time. They seems to be many in Barra Honda, but we can’t tell how many yet, so the idea of create this information makes everyone be excited.
Eduardo Artavia –Biologist
Oscar Rosales - Camp Officer