Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly - Update January - February 2015
With the beginning of the year came new goals and opportunities for the Costa Rica team. We continued with the hard work of saving the scarlet macaws, we started compiling a guide to the different butterfly species that have been found in the park over the last years and we also started with environmental education in schools.
Scarlet Macaw Nest Site Protection
Around 1,000 scarlet macaws live in Costa Rica. Although there are already protected areas dedicated to the protection of this species, the number still decreases. The most serious threat to the scarlet macaw is poaching – because of poverty (and greed) farmers are forced to steal to save money for their family. Athough this trade is illegal, there are still people who want to buy the birds and as such, the macaws remain at risk.
For this reason, we have had this project running for three years in an effort to save this beautiful species and their habitat. This is the “Return of the Macaw Project”. The scarlet macaw (Ara macao) is a large bird of bright colours and can grow to about 79 inches, weighing about 900 grams. Most of their feathers are red, except for the wings, which are blue and yellow. The scarlet macaw has no feathers around the eyes and is characterised by its long blue tail. There is no visible difference between the sexes, although juvenile birds have black eyes, while the older birds’ eyes are yellow. The scarlet macaw’s beak is hooked and very sharp, which allows it to open the hard seeds that it feeds on.
We had a successful start to the year when we found a couple in the same nest. Last year when we climbed this tree, we found four eggs. Unfortunately, these eggs did not hatch. This could be for many reasons, one of which is climate change. We will now start new research in the macaw nests using a “datalogger” to record the temperature and the humidity. Every macaw nest will have a device that tells us the conditions of the nest, so that we can compare it with the success of the hatch.
We started this year with an ambitious project – to plant more than 4000 trees around the National Park. We will do this together with the people who are in charge of the “water services” for every village. They take the water from the river source, so it is in this river source that we will plant the trees using only native species, such as:
- Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)
- Guanacaste (Enterolobium ciclocarpum)
- Espavel (Anacardium excelcium)
We have also been in several meetings with the people of the village and we have visited the places where we will be planting the trees. We have a big job ahead but we are excited to be a part of the conservation of the water source around the village.
We have once again started the butterfly project in the Barra Honda National Park. One of the changes has been the sampling site. Last year we worked in different transects, using two methodologies. One of them was the use of the hand traps, and the other using aerial traps tied in trees.
We are now doing the butterfly project on the trails using hand traps, and in the sampling areas we are using the aerial traps.
Education is the best way to make a change in the world and this is why we have started environmental education this year. We are currently working in five different schools teaching the children about different conservation topics. We cover subjects such as: biodiversity, flora and fauna, forest fires, conservation and protection and ecosystems.
Until next time,
Conservation Manager, Costa Rica