Giving Back for Giving Tuesday
Protecting sloths means protecting people
Our sloth conservation programs are based in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica – a region that depends heavily upon tourism. From the local hotel owners to the people that sell cold coconuts on the beach, people are starting to struggle. After 6 weeks with zero tourism, the need is great and people are lining up outside food banks in the area.
May 5th 2020 is #GivingTuesdayNow – a global day of giving as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. This Giving Tuesday we are committed to helping local families in the South Caribbean to ensure they have access to essential resources during this difficult time.
Together we stand
For Giving Tuesday we are proud to be supporting ‘Puerto Viejo Esenciales‘ to provide food, drinking water, cooking fuel, clothes for children and basic sanitary / hygiene products to the local community.
It can be easy to overlook the important connection between wildlife conservation and community conservation, but people and biodiversity are equally important. If livelihoods in the local community are vulnerable, then the demand on natural resources increases and over-exploitation can occur. Conservation success lies in developing programs that are mutually beneficial for both people and wildlife. By partnering with local communities and prioritizing their needs, we are able to build trust and utilize indigenous knowledge, which in turn has a positive influence on our conservation outcomes. Protecting sloths means protecting people.
It may seem ironic that COVID-19, something invisible to the human eye, has revealed the unseen and underappreciated ways that we are all connected. Across borders, across time zones and across species.
In this time of isolation, the focus has shifted inwards. Supporting our neighbors has never been so vital. Purchasing home-cooked meals from chefs whose restaurants have been shuttered and buying produce and hand-made products from local farmers and artisans. This is something that our team are all are currently prioritizing here at SloCo.
Although resources are scarce in this moment and hoarding may seem like a necessary evil, we can take inspiration from Mother Nature and use this opportunity to collaborate in the face of crisis.
“A Forest Beneath the Forest”
We used to think of forests as battlefields. Seedlings racing towards the sun, the “winners” shading out their slower-growing counterparts.
But as we started to study forests more closely, we discovered the extensive network that connects trees in the forest. On the surface, trees seem to be fighting for light and rainfall. But in fact, there is a “forest that exists underneath the forest” a vast network of roots and fungi that share resources below the surface.
According to the groundbreaking research by Ecologist Suzanne Simard, dying trees will even give to trees of different species. This relationship between trees and fungi is a form of mutualism: a type of symbiotic relationship in which species benefit from each other.
A Walking Ecosystem
Sloths also have their fair share of mutualistic relationships. Sloth fur is designed to trap moisture, with special grooves running along each strand of hair. Although staying humid in an already tropical climate may seem counter intuitive, this extra moisture allows for a whole host of algae and fungi to grow in their fur – an extra tool in their arsenal to stay hidden from predators!
A recent study revealed that certain strains of sloth fungi even have anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and even anti-cancer properties.
It seems that the sloths and the trees of the forest have learned that together they stand stronger. This crisis has highlighted just how intertwined we truly are – we are connected in ways that we are just beginning to understand.
We hope you will join us and consider how you can support your social and ecological networks on this global day of giving. Together we stand stronger.
If you would like to make a gift to support our work during these uncertain times, any contribution is greatly appreciated. Donations, symbolic sloth adoptions and merchandise purchases all help us in our mission to protect sloths.