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Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly Update May 2009

Brown Vine snake

After such busy months since January we honestly expected May to be a time where we could all relax a little and take stock of the start of our first solid year here in the park, but even though we had times with only 1 volunteer we managed to keep pushing forward and managed to make some big break-throughs!

As mentioned last month the work on our nursery garden is starting to pay off with seedlings starting to spring to life and some of them almost ready to transplant to other areas already! We have already organised two trips, one in June and another in July to go out to the most eager local farms and begin reforesting, which we have selected for important conservation reasons, the first being wildlife that is known to frequent these areas, most importantly the scarlet macaw populations that feed in the farms and the second being the important creeks that run through the farms that are in desperate need of restoration and protection.

Deer caught on sensor camera

Another major development this month has been the interest in the park's football field, work originally began here almost 5 months ago with cutting the meter high grass that had been left to grow there, after this was done we had to go back and start removing the weeds and "bad" grass that had set roots down so that we could re-seed the area with the correct species of grass. During this process we always had in mind that the local communities and ourselves in the park would be the primary users of the field, but we began to receive visits from the captain/manager of one of the larger local teams expressing interest in using the field for training and home games.

Nursery garden

Obviously this is something that would increase visitor numbers to the park greatly, with people coming to see the local games and of course the teams themselves. In exchange for this the team will come and help work on the area to get it into a suitable state to play on and of course maintenance to keep it in the perfect state that we wish it to be. I am eager and expectant that in the next couple of months I will finally be able to send you photos of the completed work here, hopefully with people playing on it, even if it's just us!

Other exciting things that have happened this month include a massive increase in wildlife moving around, this is principally because of the rains that have started falling with almost clockwork precision. Everyday at about 2-3pm it begins to rain heavily for a couple of hours with some of the most impressive lightning storms I have ever seen!

We have noticed a remarkable increase in mammal movement, especially young deer, some which must have only just begun to move away from their mothers, Brown Agouti, Armadillo, Howler monkey and White-nosed coati are now all seen almost daily and we are expectant that this increase will continue and improve further as the forest begins to recover from the normal dry season drought.

This has had a major impact on the sensor camera project as well, now that we are in the wet season there is much less wind than before as well as more rain. This means that the cameras are much more reliable in taking photos and with the increase in water, food and shelter animals are moving around a lot more and being captured by the cameras.

Rattle snake

Probably the most exciting increase though has been in reptiles, with an increase in toad, frog and snake sightings, my personal favourites have been with the snakes, with the most amazing opportunity to view a rattle snake close up. This species is not only famous for its amazing warning rattle but also for its strong venom, a creature that must be respected at all times!

Another amazing photo opportunity occurred a few weeks before this with a very close up photo session with a Brown Vine snake, these snakes are very difficult to see in the forest due to their slender body and tendency to wave around like a vine in a light breeze, but when they know they have been discovered they have a truly amazing threat display which involves them raising themselves up from the ground and opening their mouths as you can see in the photo. Of course we maintain a safe distance from the snakes when we discover them; the camera zoom is a wonderful thing!

Richard Munday
Conservation Coordinator
Barra Honda National Park
May 2009

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