At the end of last year, our tight-knit SloCo team scattered far and wide to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends. Some went to the other side of Costa Rica, some as far as countries such as Argentina, the UK, Germany, or the US.
We all love Puerto Viejo, but sometimes this little corner of the world feels very distant from everyone else. Working and living far from our loved ones is hard, and working in conservation is often no easy task.
News that the doomsday clock is set at 90 seconds to midnight can confirm our worst fears and leave us feeling one step behind–but to have hope and the will to be the change in the world, what we really need is love. Love for humanity, love for wildlife, love for the environment, love for knowledge. There’s no other way to fight for our world and all its living creatures without conviction and love.
Last but not least, we’re here to help you celebrate Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or Palentine’s! No matter your celebration, we have a great selection of sloth-themed gifts that A) you will love, B) help wild sloths, and C) also support our conservation initiatives!
Love your planet, love your sloths, and love your very favorite sloth conservationists, because we sure do love our supporters.
Those of you who have been following SloCo’s work for the last few years know that our modus operandi is community-based projects: reforestation, urban mitigation, powerline insulation, wildlife bridges, responsible tourism campaigns, and more. However, our ultimate goal has always been to protect wildlife habitat before it needs restoring, and to that end, we are really excited to announce that SloCo is creating a 20-hectare reserve of primary forest in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica!
This land will be the beginnings of a nature reserve (focused on sloths of course, but we all know how many other animals will benefit as well!), and to ensure that the land stays protected, SloCo will be re-headquartering to our new Sloth Reserve. The paperwork was signed last week, and we know you are as excited about this journey as we are!
If you’d like to see even more land protected, click here to donate to the Sloth Reserve. For only $5 you can add one square meter of primary rainforest to this project, and ensure that the plants and animals that call it home will continue to do so.
We’re an association!
Although SloCo received legal status as a foreign organization in 2020, this year we finally got our official papers classifying us as an association. This legal technicality is important to the government of Costa Rica, and we can now apply for national funds and grants, sell merchandise (and apply the proceeds to the sloths!), and organize fundraisers and tours that can help finance our conservation projects.
SloCo is not a rescue center, but we do have over a decade of experience handling, dealing with, and rescuing sloths. We get calls pretty frequently to come to save sloths from injury or dangerous situations, who we then take to rescue centers with the facilities to help them. This month we sprang to the rescue of a two-fingered sloth that had survived an electrocution of an uninsulated power line (whom we named Freckles) and a baby three-fingered sloth who was found orphaned.
Thermal drone project
Dayber (our wildlife crossing installer) just got his official drone pilot’s license, and will be using our new thermal drone to assist in the Great Sloth Census project. He’ll be working alongside Tamara and our sloth-detection dog Keysha.
For more information on how to spot sloths with drones, check this incredible video of our colleagues in Brazil using a drone to find endangered maned sloths!
Meet Deborah, a beautiful two-fingered sloth whose territory neighbors Mango’s and Pumpkin’s! Deborah has joined the Urban Sloth Project, and if you’d like to know more about this lovely little sloth, click below to adopt her!
Speaking of adoptions, check out our new adoption pack! In addition to a copy of the best-selling book Sloths: Life in the Slow Lane, the printed biography of your chosen sloths, photo, and certificate, you also get a hand-made crocheted sloth–the perfect gift for your favorite sloth lover! Order today and your package will arrive just before the holidays!
Fails Of the Month
SloCo has been busy with the sloth rescuing this month, and we’ve seen a disturbing trend along Playa Negra road: sloths with cloudy eyes. Several sloths had to be transferred to veterinary care over the course of November, and they all had a thing in common: they were living next to dusty and busy roads. We suspect that a mix of stress and dust is harming their eyes, and SloCo will continue to monitor the situation to see if this trend progresses.
These past few months ICE (the Costa Rican electric company) has been doing some major overhauls in their management structure, which has translated to delays in a lot of areas, such as collaborating with other organizations such as SloCo. It’s quite frustrating to be sitting on the funds for powerline insulation while we wait on the go-ahead from the government, but as we cannot legally proceed without them, wait we must.
In a new chapter of Technology versus The Jungle (current score: Jungle – 3,256, Tech – 4), the jungle has once again eaten one of our tracking receivers. The receivers are key to tracking the radio signal of our Urban Sloths, without which we cannot monitor them! Thankfully this isn’t our first rainforest rodeo, and we always have a spare.
The end of year brings both the holiday season and a time to reflect on what has been, once again, a wonderful journey. In our next edition of Tales of the Jungle, we’ll have a recap with all the highlights of the past 12 months that we have been so proud and happy to have shared with you! Sloth conservation is sometimes a rough road, and we never forget how grateful we are to our partners in this quest. Thank you!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.)
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.
We’ve got exciting news this August! We have of course been up to our usual projects: reforestation, education, sloth crossings bridges, and research–and in addition, we’ve got a new team member, a new sloth, and a few new articles for you!
How concerning is “least concern”?
Four of the six species of sloths are classified as “least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The problem with this is that there is a lack of information about sloth population trends, meaning that the metrics used by the ICUN might be wrong in the case of sloths.
August is a very special month here in the South Caribbean, and each year our province of Limon in Costa Rica takes a holiday to celebrate our unique Afro-Caribbean culture, people, and heritage!
This year we were proud to march in the Wolaba Parade, right down the main street of Puerto Viejo, with the Kukula Kids Club and our mascot, Siesta the Sloth.
Everybody give a big welcome to Deborah, our latest addition to the Urban Sloth Project! Debbie, as she is affectionately known to the tracking team, is a beautiful two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) that lives in the same little forest as Mango and Maracuya near SloCo HQ. She was named after one of our dearest supporters, and we know she is going to be just as awesome.
Would you like to be one of our supporters too?Join our VIP community and receive monthly updates about the sloths we’re monitoring, plus photos, biographies, and more! In fact, here’s a little treat for you in the form of this beautiful illustration, which you can download here.
Say hello to our newest (human) member of the Urban Sloth Project, José Guzman García , with a degree in Biology with an emphasis on Ecology and Sustainable Development, who is joining our team to track sloths.
Jose is committed to generating changes in the community through science and conservation and is also a photographer, so if you get any extra special pictures of sloths in our VIP updates, you’ll know who to thank 😉
Welcome to crazytown, Jose!
How will global warming and climate change affect sloths?
Sloths are specially adapted to the constant temperatures of the rainforest, and–more so than most mammals–are deeply affected by changes in the ambient temperature.
This could leave them even more vulnerable to climate change than previously suspected; read more here about this research in Brazil, which studied and forecast how climate change will affect sloths and their habitat using some data collected and analyzed by Dr. Rebecca Cliffe.
Tracking diaries #12
“I hand the tracking backpack off and take only the antenna and receiver, and begin to climb.
“Watch out!” calls Amelia from behind me. “You’re not in climbing gear!” I’m not; I’m in thick jeans, big rubber boots, and as many socks as I can put between me and any potential snakes that I might surprise while out traipsing through swamps. If I go tumbling off it’s a 15-meter drop to the crashing waves beneath us.” Continue reading…
Fails of The Month
Sick days are never over (Part III)
We did say welcome to Crazytown, right José? Well, the Caribbean baptism around here is that you get Dengue. Surprise! This tropical mosquito-transmitted disease (listed as one of the world’s Neglected Tropical Diseases by the WHO) really takes it out of you, but hey, we’ve all been there, so at least José is in good company. He made it through a LOT of papaya leaf juice, and we are happy to report he is better and back to sloth tracking.
Hello, sloth community! Can you believe we’re more than halfway through the year already? We’ve already started preparations for International Sloth Day this October (Thursday, October 20th! Put it on your calendar!), but before that, here’s the latest news from the field:
Kukula Kids Club Photo Success!
Last month Girls Who Click hosted a photography workshop with our environmental club, the Kukula Kids’ Club. 12 kids got their own camera, some lessons in basic photography, and some conservation coaching for a fun week of nature and pictures. Quite appropriately, we even had a visit from a wild sloth, which was so perfect we couldn’t have planned it!
Sloth Crossings Update:
We’re only 16 bridges away from our next milestone: bridge number 200! We’re so excited we decided to celebrate early with this amazing video by Cederholm Photography. Check out that three-fingered sloth using one of our bridges!
Opossums, kinkajous, spider monkeys… and sloths, oh my!
So many animals use our Sloth Crossings bridges! We currently have a total of 16 camera traps monitoring bridges in order to test their efficiency.
If you would like to see more about the Sloth Crossings update, including more footage of wildlife using the bridges, here is our latest blog!
We are tremendously excited to begin our Scat Detection Dog Project this month! Since sloths are so hard to spot in the trees, we are going to teach a dog to find their poop instead, and use sloth toilets to tell us about sloth populations in specific areas. Nothing like this has ever been done before, but the results of the pioneering study will be extremely important.
Sloths have spent millions of years evolving to not be seen, so it’s very difficult to count them…until now. Thanks to the Future for Nature award received by Dr. Cliffe earlier this year, SloCo has been able to partner up with Working Dogs for Conservation to start training our newest team members: Dayko and Kesha!
Sick Days are never over (Part II): It’s either Dengue or Covid, and this month it was both. Half the team was out sick this July, and the office was frequently closed for quarantine, mosquitoes, or simply lack of staff. Get well soon, guys!
The Urban Sloth Project team was scattered to the four winds this month when senior members Amelia and Ames had to return to their home countries for a bit, leaving Haley, Dayber, and Fran to hold down the fort. Oh, and train up our newest sloth tracker, Jose. Hi Jose! Welcome to the jungle!
Haley from the Tracking Team hurt her ankle while sloth tracking at the end of July, just before we had to close HQ for Covid (again). This is what comes from wandering around the jungle while staring at treetops through binoculars－you can’t watch where you step! We are at least happy to report that she is recovering well.
In other lessons for watching where you step, new sloth tracker Jose was out looking for Croissant in Arse End Swamp and stepped on what he thought was solid ground near Poo Creek… and, well, was soon up to his knee in Poo Creek. Without a paddle, as they say. On the plus side, he did find Croissant. We appreciate your sacrifice, Jose!
We’ve got a lot of exciting news for you this time, involving science, papers, our recent research project, and of course some amazing footage of wildlife using our bridges!
We’re also very excited to announce that we are getting really close to our 200th Sloth Crossing– Only 16 more bridges to go! Stay tuned, we’re almost there!
Where’s my bridge?
We’ve got a map for that! Use the code or coordinates we provided to check it out and see where your bridge is, and while you’re at it, get a view of the network of bridges we’re creating together.
Camera Trap Project update
Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters we are so thrilled to announce we now have 16 camera traps! We are very excited to see the results of our research project on the usage and efficiency of our sloth crossings.
For a camera trap to be effective on a bridge, it must have a clear line of sight for any animals, with no leaves or branches that would get in the way of the motion sensor triggering the camera.
Additionally, we are currently installing camera traps only on newly built bridges so as to record how long it takes animals to get used to the bridges and begin using them.
We have the results for two of our camera traps that recorded footage for three months, and we discovered some really amazing animals using the bridges!
If you would like to donate to this project, please consider the camera traps that work best in the Caribbean climate and circumstances (according to our field experience!):
With the six bridges we installed in the North Caribbean town of Tortuguero last year we do have evidence of spider monkeys using them, and we were proud to collaborate with Aureli for his paper. We also got some very nice footage of spider monkeys using our crossings!
One of the bridges in Tortuguero that got a lot of use was a connection between two trees on a rather remote property. In fact, one of the trees was in the National Park of Tortuguero. Underneath this bridge was lots of vegetation, smaller trees, and bushes. Observing this, Filippo Aureli and his team concluded that spider monkeys are more willing to use bridges over vegetation in places such as properties and gardens, but they are reluctant to use single-rope bridges above roads.
What a vacation in the South Caribbean might look like
Many of our Sloth Crossings are installed near hotels, house rentals, and accommodation properties. Every now and then visitors can get the chance to see the bridges in action!
Connecting with MOPT to install bridges above the main road
In accordance with our goal of installing differently designed wildlife bridges over roads, we recently had a meeting with MOPT (Ministry of Public Works and Transport). We are happy to say we have had some productive conversations about different bridge designs and places for possible future installations, and we look forward to collaborating with them in the future!
To start this off, we even have a donation of $5,000 from an anonymous donor that will be used to build one of our newer-design bridges over one of the main roads in Limon. Some of the roads in Limon are quite busy and are major contributors to habitat fragmentation in that area.
Bridges in the sky carry sloths to safety in Costa Rica
Need more sloths? Need more jungle wildlife on sloth bridges? We got a visit from a journalist hailing all the way from Mongabay who kindly recorded some of our Sloth Crossing Project footage. Need to learn more about generating safe connectivity for sloths in urban areas? Of course, you do! Check the video below!
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!
We are very pleased to announce that we managed to get our routine health check done on Luna and her baby Celeste, and they are both doing great! Celeste is growing up so fast, and Luna continues to do very well in her little territory by the sea. There have been no further deforestation attempts in her area and even vehicle intrusions are way down.
In other news, we’ve managed to change the backpacks on Mango and Maracuya, who are doing well and have acquired the nicknames “the fruit twins”. If you’d like to hear more about this adorable duo, get the full details by joining our VIP community!
Listen to Dr. Rebecca Cliffe’s latest podcast
Instant Genius is a bite-sized masterclass in podcast form. Check the BBC Science News Instant Genius Podcast about sloths and conservation, and listen to Dr. Cliffe herself!
Camera Trap Footage
The children from our Kukula Kids’ Club reviewed the footage from our new camera trap project on sloth bridges and identified the species found on the camera that had been using our wildlife crossings. They saw sloths, kinkajous, and a woolly opossum!
We did group discussions on these animals and why they need the bridge. Then they all picked one animal they saw and painted them!
Bringing photography to children
Our Kukula Kids’ Club keeps bringing new activities and opportunities to its members in the Kekoldi indigenous community! This time we teamed up with Girls Who Click for a wildlife photography workshop! If you’re interested in contributing to this project, each camera costs about $50 and is donated to children who will keep it to continue developing their skills throughout the year.
This month we planted +310 trees, installed 7 sloth crossings while sloths have been spotted using our wildlife bridges (check the wonderful photo from Cerderholm Photography), started organizing our next spay and neuter campaign, received two different film crews, added 15 new members to the Sloth Friendly Network, and began two tourism-related projects in the area that we can’t tell you about yet. Tune in next time to find out more!
Meet the SloCo community: The Krueger Family
This month we would like to highlight the amazing support of the incredible Krueger family, who have been such amazing supporters of the SloCo community. They have already symbolically adopted ALL of our sloths, donated for 3 Sloth Crossings and 6 camera traps (with all the accessories!), and even helped transport this equipment all the way down to the jungles of the South Caribbean! Their family business is also a Platinum Star Partner of our Corporate Giving Program.
In Kim Krueger’s words: “We just see the world changing so much. And not a lot of people want to seem to help sloths. So we thought we wanted to help them more. We want to support SloCo and sloths in every way possible!”
After several months of nice, healthy calm, come June more than half of our team came down with either Covid, Dengue, or the infamous “Covidengue”, which is what happens when you can’t decide which one you have because you might have both. Covidengue is not a disease recognized by any health authorities anywhere, but for a disease that doesn’t actually exist it feels real! (And terrible. Really terrible. 0/10 would not recommend.)
As the lease runs out on our current headquarters, SoCo has been shopping around for some land to buy and build on. It sure would be nice to own our building and not have to rent! We thought we had some great luck this month and were about to close on purchasing some beautiful land complete with jungle and even a lagoon! Sadly, there were some irregularities in the last-minute background checks and the deal fell through for now.
As we put nearly half the year behind us (holy cow, where is 2022 going?) we have so much great news for you! May has kept us busy installing more Sloth Crossing Wildlife Bridges, saying goodbye to one of the sloths of the Urban Sloth Project, receiving important awards, and more!
Future for Nature winner
This month our founder and executive director Dr. Rebecca Cliffe traveled to Amsterdam to receive the Future for Nature Award of €50,000! (About $53,000 US.) For an entire week, she got to hang out with fellow conservationists from around the globe, environmental authorities, and other people fighting for the future of planet Earth. Check out this video with Dr. Rebecca’s presentation about our Sloth Scat Detection Dog and how we’re going to be putting this award to good use.
Inspiring the next generation
SloCo is also proud this month to have participated as advisors in the first Thinkaton Monge; a competition organized by one of the most important tech businesses in Costa Rica. The participants were university students who had to solve a given problem with a technological solution.
The problem this time was: the lack of data on sloth populations! The winners proposed sloth counting using thermosensitive cameras in drones mixed with a centralized national database. Wow. This would be a real game-changer for our favorite arboreal mammals. Congratulations to the winners Alejandra Merino and Ricardo Cascante for their ‘SlothFinder’ proposal!
Welcome to Sloth Town, a visual journey by Suzi
Just in case you’ve missed it, we published a shocking article written by wildlife photographer and SloCo trustee, Suzi Eszterhas, about the lives of the sloths living in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The article is illustrated with a selection of photographs taken during the week she spent here.
Can we make Sloth Town a safer place for sloths?
Our Sloth Friendly Network certification is an initiative looking to do exactly that: make human-wildlife coexistence possible by making our streets and gardens safer for animals. The accredited members of the SFN are businesses that have installed Sloth Crossing Wildlife Bridge, planted trees, trained their pets to not attack wildlife, educate their guests about responsible tourism, and supported community conservation in other ways.
Baguette was one of the sloths we were monitoring for the Urban Sloth Project, but alas, all good things come to an end—but it was a very cute, Happily Ever After kind of ending. After monitoring her for almost a year, we decided it was time to let Baguette go. Read her story, and all about why she is still one of the most difficult sloths to track!
Continuing with our commitment to bring you the very best, most up to date and most accurate information on all things sloth, we have for you our latest Slothopedia entry about sloth food. How long does it take a sloth to digest a leaf? Do they eat things besides leaves?
Bridges in the sky carry sloths to safety in Costa Rica
This month we also received a visit from a journalist hailing all the way from Mongabay who recorded some footage of our Sloth Crossing Project. Check the video below to learn more about how we generate safe connectivity for sloths in urban areas.
Thanks for sticking with us so far, and we will see you next month as we kick off summer in June!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sloth Crossings Project