Tales from the Jungle: April 2022

Tales from the Jungle: April 2022

Happy April everyone! We hope you survived any April Fools pranks from the beginning of the month, had a happy Easter with friends and family if you so celebrate, appreciated some jazz (what, you didn’t know it was Jazz Appreciation Month?), and ate some yummy food on National Empanada Day, which was April 8th. Because the only thing better than an empanada is a holiday devoted to them!

 

Here in Costa Rica, the defining holidays are Semana Santa, or Holy Week, when in addition to religious observances, every tourist in the whole country goes to the beach. Our tiny beach town was glutted with tourists (and their cars), which made it difficult to get anywhere. Sloth tracking was a challenge, but the Tracking Team rose to the challenge, sloths were tracked, and the holidays survived.

Speaking of sloths, we’ve had a bit of a change up with one of the Urban Sloth Project’s sloths, read on to find out who!

 

The Adventures of Nacho

Nacho has officially been released from the Urban Sloth Project. Although he was one of the most interesting sloths we monitored and we really enjoyed tracking him, we kept having problems with his equipment being stolen. Check out our blog here to read more of Nacho’s story and what we learned from him!

 

The Urban Sloth Project is a long-term study on how the urbanization of their environment affects sloths. We’re currently monitoring eight sloths, and you can get updates by joining our VIP community! We send out updates and pictures every month.

 

New milestone for our Education Program!

 

Our Sloth School Program, a local and online educational enrichment program focusing on sloths, has now reached 5,000 children! We offer sloth lessons via zoom, and if this sounds like something you or some children you know are interested in, please contact us.

Part of SloCo’s educational outreach program is the Kukula Club, where children can meet in person to learn about how sloths live and are studied in the wild. One of the most popular activities is learning about using radio frequency technology to track sloths. 

 

To do this, we hide a stuffed sloth wearing a radio collar, and the kids get to find it using the portable antenna and radio receiver box. Future sloth scientists in the making!

 

 

Sloth Crossing Team Goes to the Pacific!

Our Bridge Team traveled to Ojochal and Uvita on the Pacific side of Costa Rica to install some wildlife bridges and managed to put up eight bridges in four days, including one at Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Go team!  Special thanks to Reserva Playa Tortuga who helped us organize and coordinate this trip!  

 

 

While we were there, SloCo also visited this amazing school Life Project Education at Ojochal and had a great time meeting all the amazing children who attend.

 

 

This school has bought the plot of land next door in order to save it from deforestation, and the students have started to reforest it. We built a sloth crossing bridge to help wildlife until the trees are big enough to create a natural canopy connection!

 

Our latest “versus” blog is out!

This time we have sloths vs red pandas! Can you think of any similarities between the two species? Check out the blog for some surprising comparisons. Support our friends from The Red Panda Network and their amazing work to protect these incredible animals!

 

 

Does this ancient cave art represent a giant ground sloth with its baby?

 

Ice Age megafauna rock art in the Colombian Amazon? José Iriarte, Michael J. Ziegler, Alan K. Outram, Mark Robinson, Patrick Roberts, Francisco J. Aceituno, Gaspar Morcote-Ríos and T. Michael Keesey.

Beautiful cave paintings in Colombia have sparked some controversy, but we want to know what you think. Giant ground sloth? Abstract art? Proof of extraterrestrial life visiting planet Earth? Find out in our latest paleo sloths entry.

  • Read More: Prehistoric Rock Art Might be Early Representations of Giant Ground Sloths

 

This is not fine!

 

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report has brought us some scary news that many of us were aware of, but can now confirm. Many impacts of global warming are now simply “irreversible” according to the UN’s latest assessment. If by 2025 global emissions haven’t dropped, we will all be facing catastrophic climate events.

 

sloth meme this is not fine

 

 

This report has demonstrated the importance of demanding global environmental change from our leaders. We need governments and large corporations to move at a faster pace to impact positive global change rather, because the sloth pace we are currently going at isn’t working. Sloths can’t outrun climate change!

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Big Wild Thought is an amazing company helping so many animals all around the world. Their clothing is of beautiful quality with delicately embroidered animals, and we love it. Head over to their page to check out their sloth attire, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to helping us help sloths! 

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donate monthly

 

Have you considered a monthly donation to your favorite conservation program? Monthly gifts help us ensure all our projects are funded and organize our budget more efficiently!

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Thank you so much for tuning into this month’s newsletter, and we’ll see you again next month with more weird adventures from the jungle. Summer begins the nice, easy, slow season down here, and we are all looking forward to less traffic, beautiful weather (maybe), and taking lessons from the sloths about taking it easy. Cheers!

 

-SloCo Team

Things that look like sloths: Tracking Diaries #10

Things that look like sloths

“Oh look, barbed wire,” Becky says as she picks her way around the rusty tangle in front of her. “It’s my favorite.”

“Are you sure?” I ask. “We have a busted sewer pipe over here.”

“That’s my special favorite,” Becky assures me.

Deyber is eyeing a swarm of bees, Fran appears to be staring at the sun with a pair of binoculars, and we haven’t seen Amelia in a while; it’s possible the quicksand got her. Quick mud. Tar pit. Poo sinkhole… Whatever it’s called when the unmentionable muck beneath our feet finally succeeds in swallowing us whole.

We are, of course, in Heck Swamp, looking for Baguette.

Baguette is a three-fingered sloth that is scheduled for release from the Urban Sloth Project, but first, we have to catch her one last time to get her backpack off. Today our top priority is finding this lady, and to this end, we have pulled out the big guns—in the form of Deyber and Fran, who have some kind of sloth x-ray vision.

“I see one!” says Deyber, and I get so excited I try to run to where he is at, forgetting that There is No Running in Heck Swamp, and I almost go face first into the mud. When I get to where Deyber is standing, though, I can see no sloth.

“Where?” I ask.

“There. In the hole in the trees. By the leaves.”

“Oh! I see—” except I don’t see, because I am looking at a squirrel’s nest. You’d think a haphazard pile of very non-furry dead leaves would look less like a sloth, but sloths are the visual version of what chicken tastes like: everything looks like a sloth.

(I tried once to explain to one of my Spanish-speaking coworkers that sloths were The Chickens of the Forest because they look like what chicken would taste like if you could see flavors… but the joke did not translate, and I think all I did was convince him I was insane.)

Finally, I see what Deyber is talking about; a single sloth claw, 50 meters away, through about 12 trees. How the heck he spotted that I have no idea. I try to get closer for a better view, since we cannot ID Baguette from a single claw, and after 10 meters of mud I think I see a new sloth—but it is a large leaf. At 15 meters I for sure have found a new sloth, get excited and call Becky over, but it turns out to be a male sloth who is not wearing a backpack. Oops.

At 30 meters I am knee-deep in a substance I am choosing to believe is mud, because the alternative is to run screaming back to civilization and get a career studying something more predictable, like, say, potted plants. I am pondering whether or not my boot will ever come unstuck. Somewhere off to my right, Fran has discovered six more real sloths and twice as many sloth-shaped termite nests. I pull on my right foot. It does not budge, but my left foot sinks lower.

Becky has found a line of giant ants the size of my thumb. She declares them cute. I give a mighty heave of my stuck foot, because otherwise my new career is going to be “fossil”, and it finally comes free.

I at last make it to the tree where possibly-Baguette is hiding, where I catch sight of Amelia.

“Look!” she says, “I think I found her!”

I pull out my binoculars. The object in question is round, brown, and furry. “I don’t know. I think it’s a coconut.”

“Are you sure? I swear it moved.”

“I’m not saying it DIDN’T move, but check it out from this angle.”

Amelia squelches over. “Darn it. It’s either a coconut, or a two-fingered sloth. Hey Fran, do we have two-fingered sloths in Heck Swamp?”

“No. Only three-fingereds.”

“Oh hey!” I say, peering through my binos again. “I have a two-fingered right here! It’s curled up with a blanket. Inside a tree…”

The group agrees that this has to be seen to be believed and congregates around the tree with the mystery animal. I contend that it is a two-fingered sloth, Becky thinks kinkajou, Fran and Deyber are debating tayra, and Amelia thinks it might be a stuffed toy placed here as part of a very obscure joke.

While we are discussing this and trying to get pictures, the sloth that might be Baguette shifts slightly and curls up into the leaves, hiding her back from us for the rest of the afternoon, and the mystery animal sticks out its little pink tongue and licks its nose, thus ending the debate on the side of tayra (which have very identifiable tongues, I guess).

Oops, not a two-fingered sloth then!

As we squish our way out of the swamp later, I confide to Amelia that I cannot believe I misidentified not just the wrong species of sloth, but the wrong species of animal entirely.

“It’s okay,” she tells me. “You just got April Fooled.”

And, remembering the mocking pink tongue and the perpetually mysterious Baguette, I have to laugh, because I guess humans aren’t the only animals with a sense of humor.

Happy April Fools Day!

 

-Ames Reeder