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

How to be a responsible traveler?

How to be a responsible traveler?

Responsible travel is not only caring about nature and the ecosystem, it is about being socially and culturally aware, understanding and respecting different cultures, customs, and traditions. It is about always trying to have a positive impact and minimize the negative impact as much as possible.

While the meanings of these terms sound similar to sustainable tourism, here it is the traveler who takes the initiative to be responsible.

1. Respect the culture and customs

We must keep in mind that the world is a diverse place and it is very important to respect the local customs, dress appropriately, and maybe even take some time to learn some of the local language (even if it is just ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’).

responsible travel indigenous man bribri costa rica
Bri bri man /Photo: Life, Culture & Travel Costa Rica

South Caribbean tip: There are different institutions that offer Spanish lessons as well as Caribbean cooking classes. Learning how to cook traditional coconut-based plates is a perfect activity for rainy days!


2. Buy local items

When you’re abroad, consider where you want to spend your money when it comes to meals, snacks, souvenirs, clothing, etc. One of the best ways to make a positive impact on the lives of the residents and local communities in the country you’re visiting is to purchase products that are locally grown/made. You are not only helping someone to create a better life for themselves or their family, but you will also have a much more authentic travel experience and will get to know their culture and traditions.


Bribri handcrafts

South Caribbean tip: Handicraft items are sold at the artisan feria located in downtown Puerto Viejo. If you take a tour to an indigenous Bribri or Cabecar Reserve, you can get original and beautiful handcrafts while helping the community.


3. Volunteering is great, but do some research first

Offering your time as a volunteer or donating money to good causes are great ways to be a responsible traveler. There are plenty of different ways to help, depending on your preferences and skills you can help kids to learn another language or sports, or help injured or rescued wildlife, but you must do a bit of research before engaging in these activities, to make sure the organization is real and does not make any profit or take away jobs from locals.



South Caribbean tip: If volunteering with an institution is a commitment that takes too much time, you can always spend an afternoon picking up litter from the beach! Every week different local groups organize trash campaigns you can join spontaneously! 


4. Watch your waste

In some countries, we might find a different education level involving recycling or minimizing waste. But it is even more important that we as travelers do some simple things to manage our waste, and ensure doing our best to be responsible.

Pack reusable bags or your backpack and say no to plastic bags from shops, eat and drink in the cafe rather than taking away your food and drinks (or use a KeepCup), do not use straws, and try to use natural products.


5. Leave no trace

You shouldn’t leave any footprint in the natural environment – whether you’re exploring the backcountry, a rainforest, or a city. This also includes respect for wildlife – don’t deface property, walk on the signed paths, don’t take any seashells or other natural plants or artifacts.



South Caribbean tip: It is important to know that in Costa Rica it is illegal to remove natural items, especially in protected areas like Cahuita National Park. Avoid a nasty moment at the airport!


6. Minimize your carbon footprint

We all know that when we travel we often have to use a plane to get somewhere, but you can lower the environmental impact of your travels at the destination itself. Use public transport instead of taxis. If it is short distances you can also walk or rent a bike, you can explore the area even better and it is good for your budget and your health too. 



South Caribbean tip: We highly recommend renting a bike and moving around the different beaches. We promise you the landscape is gorgeous and the road is flat all the way. Even if you’re not used to riding bikes, it won’t be difficult at all!


7. Choose sustainable tour operators

Choose a company that respects the environment and wildlife, and works with the community, to provide jobs to the local people or provide extra training for their staff. Some companies or tour operators donate a part of their money to NGOs, or pay their staff a bit more money than usual.


responsible tourism
Life Culture Travel is a local tour opertaor run by an indigenous woman. Don’t miss their indigenous territories tour!


South Caribbean tip: Check our certified ‘Sloth Friendly Network (SFN)’ businesses here.

8. Respect the wildlife

Don’t participate in any tours that promote cruelty towards animals with direct hands-on contact, (dolphin shows, riding elephants, cub petting). Wildlife tourism is big business and unfortunately, money comes before the well-being of the animals. If you are really interested in visiting a place that gives animals home or protects them, make sure you contact them and have a look if they are a registered organization and if they are transparent.



Regarding wildlife in their natural habitat, remember that it is illegal to feed wild animals, bait them with food or touch them. Always keep a safe distance, not only because you respect the animal but also because it is safer for you!

South Caribbean tip: Keep an eye out for monkeys or raccoons approaching you asking for food. They can get quite aggressive and will even steal your food or other belongings. 

9. Sustainable accommodations

Opt for guesthouses, ecolodges, or other small accommodations that have been approved by reputed establishments and choose those rather than massive resorts. There are a lot of accommodations that are built in harmony with nature.


This is a lovely and sustainable cabin in the middle of the Jungle. Photo: Colina Secreta – Glamping & Villas

Make sure that they hire local people and treat them well, that they follow sustainable practices like recycling waste, water conservation, reusing towels, and using ecological soaps/shampoos.

South Caribbean tip: Check our Sloth Friendly Network listed certified accommodations here.


10. Combat overtourism

Overtourism is just that – too many tourists. Streets are overcrowded, local sites are packed, fragile natural sites are degraded, high rent prices push out locals, and traffic is gridlocked. There are unfortunately a huge amount of destinations that can’t keep up with the crowds visiting and their locals are getting fed up because these destinations have been focusing on growth rather than taking care of the negative impacts.


responsible travel south caribbean costa rica
A solitary beach, South Caribbean, Costa Rica. Photo: Life, Culture & Travel


The options to combat overtourism are visiting cities, countries, or sights that are less known and famous, or visiting places outside of peak season, so there will be fewer tourists around.

South Caribbean tip: Luckily, the South Caribbean is not affected by overtourism yet, you can enjoy absolutely empty beaches from March to June, and from September to November. Also, during these months it rains very little and the ocean is usually flat, Caribbean postcard-like. Double win! 


11. Don’t bargain so hard

Bargaining is a part of the culture in some regions, but we have to think of the bigger picture. Sometimes tourist pricing can seem unfair, but in reality, if you’re only being charged $1 or $2 more than a local would be, think about how far that extra bit of cash could go for the person you are dealing with. Just pay the money and leave the exchange with both parties having a smile on their face.

-Sloth Friendly Network Team