Conservation in Costa Rica Monthly Update May-June 2014
The last few weeks at Barra Honda have been busy. We are in the last stages of many projects and are also starting new projects. However, we are worried because we are waiting for rain. This rain was expected to start in May and many mammals in the park need it for survival. We have had white-face capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) in the camp looking for water and for this reason we have decided to clear all the natural spring water that Barra Honda has.
This has also given us an idea for a new project that we will start soon. We will use cameras and traps in the natural spring water that Barra Honda has and we are currently finishing the aims and methods in order to start this project.
Bat Project: new reports for Barra Honda National Park
We have lots of good news from Barra Honda National Park to the world! Last week, two new species of bats were discovered. The first is the lesser dog-like bat (Peropteryx macrotis) which is generally found in the tropical deciduous forest at 1000m altitude. The individuals have been found above 1,000m in elevation but only in very small numbers and it is likely that these were incidental occurrences.
Fur color in lesser dog-like bats varies geographically and ranges from brown to gray to reddish on the dorsal section and lighter on the ventral side. They can be distinguished from similar species by a wing sac on the ante-brachial membrane. The appearance of their faces is somewhat dog-like and their ears are long. Their ears are separate at the base, not connected by a membrane as is the case for related species. Lesser dog-like bats are insectivorous. Their diet consists mainly of small beetles and flies.
The second species found was the Mexican dog-faced bat (Cynomops mexicanus.) This is a bat species of the family Molossidae from Central America. It is found from Nayarit in Mexico to Costa Rica at elevations up to 1500m.
At Barra Honda national park we continue looking for new species and making inventories of the bats. As you know, this project is in the evenings, and the work team is very important. Everyone has specific tasks and important work to do such as marking, taking biometric data for every bat and using the equipment.
Reforestation program: new babies are growing
Every rain season we have the major aim to plant more than 3000 trees. So far, we have planted more than 500 trees, and in just three weeks this is a good number for one national park in Costa Rica. It is difficult and quite tiring planting trees all day but our staff is working hard to keep the trees well maintained in our nursery garden.
Trails: working now for the forest fire season.
We are working really hard in the trails of the park. We would like to build a new trail in order to navigate around the park quicker during the dry season. However, we have had to start preparations this month because forest fires are the largest problem at Barra Honda National Park.
The other trail that we are working is around the main caves. This National Park has 43 different caves, and this trail will pass around 18 of them so this is a very important job. We will also be using this trail for access to the bat caves, making it that much more important.
Blue Flag Program: “an award is coming”
More great news! Our biogardens and recycling centers in the schools are almost ready! We have finished the project at one school and the next step is to involve the entire village. We will explain how the biogarden works, and our principal aim to build them in local schools. We can tell the village about our Blue Flag program and the awards that we hope to receive in the local schools.
Supporting others national Park: “extending our arms”
As conservationists, we have the responsibility to help in many areas. For example, we started helping a Marine National Park, the Baulas Marine National Park. This marine area is the most important for the nesting of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and we having been helping them clean up their beaches. This is very important because the principal reason for the death of this turtle is all of the plastic bags in the sea. We have also done some work in Diria National Park. This National Park is a system of mountains in the tropical dry forest. We helped them clear trails and afterwards took a nice swim in the river.
We will continue working to protect the forest, and will have many more success stories to report on next time, and will tell you more things about this amazing place!
Conservation Manager, Costa Rica