Tales from the Jungle 15 September | Projects Update Edition

Tales from the Jungle 15 September: Projects Update Edition

Hello, sloth community! This week we have some great news, and we just couldn’t wait until the end of the month to share it with you! What do the numbers 500, 5,000, 200, and 6,000 have in common? Read on and let us tell you.

500

As you may know, we work with Puerto Viejo Dogs (a local pet shelter) to spay and neuter at least 10 rescued dogs every month, and this month we reached our 500th puppy! That’s 500 dogs that get to live healthier, happier lives, and an uncountable number of puppies that won’t be homeless, add to the stray dog population, pass on zoonotic diseases, or harass wildlife.

 

500 dogs spay and neuter

 

Speaking of dogs, have you heard about our latest scientific project to have dogs help us count sloths? Nothing like it has ever been done before, so check out our link to stay abreast of some groundbreaking research!

5,000

We started our Connected Gardens Project in the late 2018 with a tiny tree nursery of no more than a few dozen saplings. Our project has grown so much in the last four years that last Friday we celebrated a really epic milestone: we planted our 5,000th tree!

 

The property that was being reforested used to be a parking lot, but the new owners are committed to making their garden a sloth-friendly place, and worked with us to help plant trees. We are so happy to say that change is possible, and turnabout is only fair play: it was very satisfying to see a parking lot go back to the trees!

200

 

200 almost sloth crossing bridge

We are SO CLOSE to this one! We have put up 196 wildlife bridges so far, and we are only four away from reaching number 200 this month. We still need some sponsors though, so if you’d like to be in on this month of milestones, just think of what bridge number 200 would look like with your name on it!

We’re so close, it could happen! Help us connect the canopy!

6000

Perhaps most impressively, our greatest number this month goes to what might be the most important project of all: passing on our love of sloths, science, and conservation to the next generation.

Our sloth school program has now reached 6,000 students–yes, that’s right six THOUSAND young people have had access to enriched education about nature generally, science especially, and sloths specifically! (And if you can say that last sentence three times fast, you automatically graduate.)

 

school lesson sloth

We work with schools in many countries to get the word out about sloths, though our classes are most popular in Costa Rica, England, and the United States. We have lessons in Spanish and English and are working on adding even more languages!

We like to get out in the forest as much as possible, but when that isn’t feasible, our online classes are available to students all over the world, in any classroom, at any time.

What do sloths have to do with red pandas?

 

sloth red panda infographic

 

September 17th is International Red Panda Day and we are excited to celebrate it with our friends from Red Panda Network in our latest edition of Sloths Vs, in the aptly named “Sloth versus Red Pandas”. Can you guess what these two have in common? No? You’ll just have to read on then, because, rather like sloths, red pandas are really cool!

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Stay tuned for the upcoming Slothtober, and see you in the next Tales From the Jungle!

 

-Sloth Team

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

Sloth Crossings Update: January-April

Sloth Crossings Update: January-April

Hello Sloth Crossings Community! In this update, we’ll be covering the highlights of the project from January through April. We’re proud to say that the project continues to expand to new levels and new areas!

January: The Month of Covid

In January approximately 90% of our team either tested positive for COVID or had to quarantine due to close contact with someone who had. It was a bit of a shock for this area, which up until now had seemed to skate by the pandemic in our happy little tropical bubble, isolated from the worst of it by our limited access to the outside world and healthy, fresh outdoor living.

February: Collaboration is Key

In February we finally started working with ICE (the Costa Rican electric company, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) to coordinate the installation of bridges above the main road and secondary streets. Installation in these areas requires the powerlines to be deactivated until the bridge is safely anchored on either side of the line.

 

 

Since the electric grid in this area is less like a grid and more like a straight line, everyone downstream of this project has no electricity until it’s finished, which can take a few hours. So far we installed three sloth crossings over electrical lines in Playa Chiquita and five in Playa Negra–both of which are important neighborhoods with high levels of urbanization.

Problem Areas

Wildlife crossings help sloths and other animals avoid two of the three biggest sloth killers in the South Caribbean: dog attacks, and powerlines.

 

 

The survival rate for animals that have been electrocuted is very low, but insulating power lines requires a lot of time and funds, and as a public company ICE’s budget is limited. The government recognizes this problem and has already invested over $400,000 US in materials to insulate their power lines and transformers! However, this just gets the project started—more funds are needed to see it through to completion.

Since 2019 SloCo has provided over $10,000 to buy the raw materials to insulate power lines and transformers, and we expect to match this number again this year.

 

March: Record Day!

 

On March 16th the Bridges Team left the office early in the morning to go to a property in Cahuita, where the plan was to install three or four bridges and plant some trees. Not only did we achieve this, but we also set a new record! The team managed to install five bridges in a single day and planted 30 sloth-friendly trees at the same time! 

 

Launching the Camera Trap Project

SloCo achieved another big goal this year with the start of our new research program: the Camera Trap Project. Thanks to our Sloth Crossing Community we are very excited to begin research on the usage of our bridges. Special thanks to the Krueger Family who brought the cameras down to Costa Rica in their luggage and made this launch possible!

 

 

At the moment we have 13 camera traps covering over 150 bridges. This is an excellent start, but we have even more brides being used by even more animals, and we want pictures of all of them! In the meantime, we are extremely grateful that we are able to make a start with the ones we have. Keep an eye out for our upcoming fundraiser for more camera traps, all and any donations are very much appreciated!

 

camera trap crossing

 

The first law of the jungle is that The Jungle Eats All Things. The heat, humidity, and wildlife will make short work of many types of cameras, but our research has shown that the camera traps that work best in the Caribbean climate and circumstances are:

 

April: Sloth Crossing Team goes to the Pacific!

The Team just got back from a five-day excursion to Ojochal and Uvita on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. We installed eight bridges, including three in Marino Ballena National Park, one of the most ecologically important protected areas of the country.

 

SloCo Team with the Rangers of Marino Ballena National Park

 

It is great to be expanding the Sloth Crossing Project to more areas of the country! Special thanks to Oscar from the Reserva Playa Tortuga, Jonathan from SINAC of the National Park Marino Ballena, and Shannon & Micki of Ojochal who contacted us and helped so much with coordinating everything.

 

We visited this amazing school @lifeprojecteducation and met all the amazing children who go here. This school has bought the plot of land next door as there was so much deforestation and has started to reforest it. 

Expanding Our Borders

Speaking of taking the Sloth Crossing Project even further abroad, we have begun collaboration with an organization in Praia do Forte, in the NorthEast of Brazil, to fund the installation of wildlife bridges adjacent to Sapiranga Reserve.

 

maned sloth brazil

 

This is an important habitat for the endangered maned sloths and is the same area where we tagged eight sloths last year as part of a different scientific research project.

Sloths and Monkeys Using Bridges

Last but not least, here is some footage of sloths and monkeys using some of the Sloth Crossing Bridges these past few weeks!

  • Two-Fingered sloth using the Bridge SC-50

 

 

  • Howler Monkey using bridge SC-66

 

  • Howler monkey using the bridge installed in the Maritime Zone SC-93

 

  • Howler monkey on the bridge  SC-110 / SC-111 at Playa Chiquita

 

  • Two-fingered sloth using bridge SC-122 at Tasty Waves Cantina

 

 

  • Howler monkeys using a bridge over the main road ( SC-122 bis) by Tasty Waves Cantina

 

  • Three-fingered sloth using SC-058

 

  • Howler monkey with her baby spotted at Tortuguero, on SC-81

 

This map shows all of the places where we have installed Sloth Crossing wildlife bridges (blue) and planted trees through our reforestation efforts (green) since March 2019.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed this update, and stay tuned for the exciting next steps of this journey. Thank you so much for your incredible support of this project!

 

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara Avila

Sloth Crossings Project

Tales from the Jungle: January & February 2022

Tales from the Jungle: January & February 2022

December is usually a month where SloCo runs lean and much of our international team travels home to see family for the holidays, working from computers in the UK, Argentina, Germany, and the United States and sending texts across time zones.

By January most of the team is back in the office and out in the field, on track and with renewed energy to start the year. This year was a bit abnormal. Not that anyone seems to know what normal is anymore, but whatever it is, this January wasn’t it!

This last month approximately 90% of our team either tested positive for COVID or had to quarantine due to close contact with someone who had. It was a bit of a shocker for this area, which up until now had seemed to skate by the pandemic in our happy little tropical bubble, isolated from the worst of it by our limited access to the outside world and healthy, fresh outdoor living.

And then came Omicron.

Just after the holidays, our little town of Puerto Viejo got hit hard by the pandemic. Suddenly, everybody was sick, knew someone who was sick, had friends and neighbors in the hospital, had to quarantine—and as soon as they were out, help run errands and groceries to those who weren’t. Thankfully, everybody at SloCo is fully vaccinated, and we personally escaped with very mild breakthrough cases.

Despite all, we have great news!

Obviously, in this situation, it was extremely difficult to carry out fieldwork, but we nonetheless managed to install ten wildlife bridges, including three spanning the main road along the South Caribbean coast!

We worked in collaboration with ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the power company) so that we could install bridges over the powerlines, which is especially important to keep animals from being electrocuted. We’ve actually been working on this project since 2020 but hit a few speedbumps along the way in the form of, you know, a global pandemic.

 

 Problem areas

Wildlife crossings help sloths and other animals avoid two of the three biggest sloth killers in the South Caribbean: traffic and powerlines. In the following map, we have highlighted three areas where animals were suffering from high levels of electrocution–all of these spots were identified by locals who reported the incidents to us and asked us to come to install bridges.

 

 

The survival rate for animals that have been electrocuted is very low, but insulating powerlines requires a lot of time and funds, and as a public company ICE’s budget is limited. They recognize this problem and have already invested over $400,000 US in materials to insulate their powerlines and transformers, but this just gets the project started—more funds are needed to see it through to completion.

Since 2019 SloCo has provided over $10,000 to buy the raw materials to insulate powerlines and transformers, and we expect to match this number again this year. Help us achieve this goal in 2022!

Celebrating Sloth Love Month

Celebrating Sloth Love Month! February is the month of romance, and here at SloCo, we’ll be bringing you some slow sloth lovin’ for your February holidays. This month we have some fun facts about sloth mating rituals on our social media, a new entry on our Slothopedia page, love poems, and a special character who will be all the love letters and emails this month: Kokomo

 

sloth love month
Kokomo gets there fast, but then they take it slow…

Impress your loved ones with sloth-themed gifts. Whether it’s for your significant other, a family member, or a friend, whether you’re celebrating Galentine’s or Valentine’s, here are some gifts that give back!

-SloCo Team

Sloth Crossings Update: More Wildlife seen on Bridges + Our First Installation

Sloth Crossings Update: More Wildlife seen on Bridges + Our First Installation

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

Our first bridge in Tortuguero!

Building bridges in Tortuguero was an important milestone for the Sloth Crossing team because it was the first time we installed the bridges all by ourselves. Before that, we used to hire climbers from outside the organization. This made bridge building a bit complicated since we had to depend on their availability.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

 

 

Over the past 6 months, we took a professional climbing course, bought our own climbing equipment, and practiced a lot. Between Diego, Tamara, Francisco, and myself we logged hundreds of hours of climbing practice.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges
Photo: Daniel Rivas

 

Although it rained almost the entire time, and these were the first bridges that Team Sloth had installed entirely on our own, we didn’t let these factors deter us.

By the end of four days there, we had installed six sloth crossings! We even installed a Sloth Crossing across the entrance to the Tortuguero National Park!

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

 

Now we are much more in the swing of installing Sloth Crossings and have installed 23 bridges together!

Since we have all been trained in single-rope accession climbing we switch off who climbs the tree to tie off the bridge, but it is certainly a group effort.

And just after two weeks of installing our first Sloth Crossing in Tortuguero, we received this video of monkeys using the bridge!

 

Connecting the coastal line

 

After we returned from Tortuguero, we heard the incredible news that we had received permission from the Municipality of Talamanca to install Sloth Crossings along the Maritime Zone.

The Maritime Zone is a public, protected area along the coastline, which is a vital refuge for many types of wildlife, especially two-fingered sloths, who eat the beach almond trees that grow in the sandy soil.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

 

Elated, we got to work straight away and have installed 16 bridges since we received permission at the beginning of June.

We installed these sloth crossings across gaps in the canopy that had been created due to some illegal cutting and several big storms.

By installing Sloth Crossings, we are able to restore connectivity along 1km of coastline and reinforce this important biological corridor for wildlife in the area.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

Slowly but surely

We received word that a three-fingered sloth with a baby was using the bridge at the Tasty Dayz Hostel a few weeks ago. This is very special since this was the first Sloth Crossing we built in 2019!

As long as the Sloth Crossing project keeps growing, we have more evidence that it takes some time for sloths to start using the bridges.

Now, this three-fingered mom and baby regularly use this Sloth Crossing to access a Cecropia tree on the property.

 

 

 

The following GIF is from footage that one of the property owners sent us last week of a three-fingered sloth using the bridge!

In this footage, we can see them feeding on the tree while hanging from the rope bridge.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

 

A two-fingered sloth was spotted using a bridge at Faith Glamping! We originally installed the bridge at Faith Glamping in honor of a baby howler monkey that had fallen to its death when their mother was trying to jump across a large gap in the canopy. You can see the Instagram story here.

 

sloth crossings wildlife bridges

 

In the following picture, you can see a two-fingered sloth using one of the bridges we installed in the neighboring town of Cahuita:

 

wildlife bridge sloth

Creating lasting connections

 

None of this work would be possible without the support from you.

Thanks to the kind property owners that have opened up their homes to us and people from around the globe that have supported our work and made this Sloth Crossings Program possible.

We (and the sloths) are eternally grateful.

 

-Katra Laidlaw

Sloth Crossing Manager