Sloth Crossings Community Update! 2021 Highlights
What an amazing year we had! When we started this project we had no idea that we’d be installing more than 100 bridges… and in a few weeks, we’ll hit sloth crossing number 150!
This project was entirely funded by our supporters and donors, so we want to share some of the highlights of this year:
1. Our team is now certified to climb by themselves.
2. The first bridge our team built was on a special trip to Tortuguero.
3. The Tortuguero bridge was used by spider monkeys just a couple of weeks after we installed it!
4. We installed our 100th sloth crossing bridge in Cocles, in the area where our urban sloths Luna & Sol live!
5. We started installing bridges on the public maritime zone by the beach.
6. We’ll be launching the second stage of the project (monitoring the usage of the bridges) next year.
7. One of the camera traps (we currently have 4) captured more than 6000 photos!
8. So far, we have installed over 2500 meters (more than 8,000 feet, or 1.5 miles) of rope!
Check out some of the footage of wildlife using the bridges in the following video:
We’ve come a long way
We started this project back at the beginning of 2019, with only two people. Now our team consists of Francisco Rodriguez, who’s also the manager of the Connected Gardens projects and all the reforestation initiatives; Diego Elizondo, who’s also in charge of the forest nursery; Dayber Barker, the main climber and assistant of the Urban Sloth Project; and me, Tamara Avila, who is writing this update.
To be honest with you
We tried our best to have your wooden signs ready in time, but unfortunately, the carpenter we hired for this task was unable to meet our deadlines. Thankfully we have since found a small local company helping us with the signs, plus we’re doing many already ourselves.
We’ve come a long way to this point–with some delays, mistakes, disappointments–but also a lot of growth, experiences, and gratitude. Thanks to all of you who had the patience of a sloth and the love to support this idea and help us execute it.
This is just the beginning of this project.
The second stage
Now that we have reached more than 100 bridges we feel confident in taking the next step: We are going to start a deeper study of the usage of these bridges.
So far we have four camera traps, and of course, we can’t just expect to place them on a bridge and get good footage right away. We wish it could be that easy!
The truth is some bridges can take months until wildlife starts to use them. We don’t even know how long it takes for sloths, the true creature of habit, to get used to a new structure in their canopy!
Although we did observe one sloth that started using a bridge just a few weeks after installation, we suspect this was the exception rather than the rule.
We did learn that monkeys are faster than sloths (bear with us) in starting to use the wildlife bridges.
In order to improve this project, make it more efficient, and start replicating in other locations in Costa Rica (as well as other countries), we need to monitor our bridges. As you can imagine, monitoring over 130 bridges with four camera traps is not going to be easy.
For this reason, we’ll be running a fundraiser for more camera traps. There are three cameras that have the specs we need: they must be jungle resistant, and most importantly, the sensor has to be sensitive enough to actually detect the slow movement of sloths. (Yes, that’s another level of difficulty!)
If you enjoy the updates of this project, and you have already invested in this project, perhaps you would consider helping us in this next stage and donate a camera–which we would of course name after you! You can even donate for a portion of the costs of a camera. Any support will be tremendously appreciated.
See you in 2022!
By the time you receive our next update, we’ll be celebrating the installation of our 150th Sloth Crossing, and hopefully, we can start putting bridges over the main road.
These road spanning bridges cannot be the single rope design we have been using because the canopy gap is much larger, so we need to build more steady, robust structures.
This will be done in collaboration with the Costa Rican Electricity Company (ICE) and with the Ministry of Environment, so coordinating this effort will require time.
I hope you stay with us in the next steps of this journey and continue supporting SloCo. Thank you so much for your great support and help, and I wish you all the best and an amazing 2022!
-Tamara Ávila Atagua
Sloth Crossings Project