Tales from the Jungle: July 2021
July is always an eventful month for Team Sloth, but we weren’t prepared for what was lurking around the corner this year!
Things got off to a good start as we celebrated an important symbolic achievement and a huge milestone for one of our projects.
Unfortunately, we also experienced the wrath of Mother Nature in all her glory – with earthquakes, tropical storms, and severe flooding leaving our team stranded!
A new national symbol!
July got off to a great start with Costa Rica declaring the sloth as their new official national symbol! This means increased protection, awareness, and more funding for conservation and research (hooray)! We are proud to have been involved in this project as consultants for the Legislative Assembly. You can read more about our contributions and suggestions here.
100 Sloth Crossings!
This month we also installed our 100th Sloth Crossing – that is 100 new places where sloths can now move safely from tree to tree! We couldn’t have done this without our incredible Sloth Crossing donors and sponsors – thank you! By joining our Sloth Crossing community you can receive exclusive updates, photos, and videos from our network of wildlife bridges (find out more using the links below):
More Castration Clinics!
Our ‘Oh My Dog’ team continued to make waves this month by hosting their 4th major dog castration clinic in the last 12 weeks. 42 vulnerable dogs were spayed and neutered in one day at an indigenous community center in the South Caribbean! This project helps to reduce the stray dog population in the region which is a major threat to all types of wildlife – including sloths!
Teaching old dogs new tricks!
Our dedicated dog team also ran our second “Oh My Dog Academy” training course this month which kept everybody on their toes – including the dogs! We provide these specialized training courses for free to local communities and aim to prevent problematic dogs from attacking wildlife. Through these courses, we have already trained over 60 dogs in the South Caribbean!
The meaning of volunteering
“After we get around the sewage pipe, make a jump for the mud bank. You have boots, right? I think it’s only about ankle-deep,” Sarah tells me as she maneuvers around the chest-height pipe. “But watch out for the live electrical wire. And the bees.”
SloCo volunteer Ames has written another entertaining blog entry about life on our sloth tracking team!
What Went Wrong…
Apparently, it isn’t always sunshine and sloths in the Caribbean! Here we reflect back on some of the things that didn’t quite go to plan this month…
When it rains… it pours!
Last week the South Caribbean was battered by multiple tropical storms which brought record-breaking rainfall to the region. The floods were catastrophic and thousands of people were seeking refuge in emergency shelters. Thankfully Team Sloth are all safe and well – albeit a little bedraggled.
Cut off from the world!
During the storms, the only bridge that connects the South Caribbean to the rest of the country collapsed leaving the entire region isolated and underwater. Unfortunately, this means that half of Team Sloth have been unable to return home, and we are still waiting for the authorities to reconnect the road! EDIT: The bridge is now fixed!
An unexpected rescue
During our castration clinic, a man arrived with two dogs in terrible condition (one was found inside a tied bag). Upon seeing this suffering, Team Sloth persuaded the man to surrender his dogs so that we could find them loving homes. Sadly one of them didn’t survive the ordeal, but we were able to rescue the other one and she has now been adopted by a wonderful family!
The jungle Vs electronics.
The battle between the jungle and modern technology continues…! The warm, humid conditions destroy electronic equipment at an alarming rate, and the latest victim was our tracking receiver! This is a vital piece of very expensive equipment that we were horrified to find malfunctioning! Thankfully we have an old spare to use while our main unit is repaired.
Shaking things up!
Just days before the tropical storms hit, the South Caribbean was also rattled by a magnitude 7 earthquake which gave everyone a good fright! Thankfully there was no major damage or injuries, but it was a good wake-up call to remind us of the strength of Mother Nature!
An Extreme month
July was a month marked by extreme weather events in a region which usually enjoys a relatively calm tropical climate. Species like sloths which have evolved to live in these warm and stable conditions often struggle when faced with big changes in the environment.
It seems like every day we hear new reports of extreme weather and natural disasters shaking the world. Every now and then these incidents touch us closely, and unfortunately, the frequency and intensity of these extreme events are increasing.
Anthropogenic global warming is a threat we have to take seriously, as is the loss of biodiversity. Thankfully we are a resilient species, and we know that we can achieve incredible things when we choose to work together.
We don’t yet fully understand the impact that the storms have had on sloth populations in the South Caribbean, but we will continue to do everything that we can to help.
We are looking forward to enjoying a drier and hopefully less dramatic August – I look forward to sharing our progress with you!
All the best from the jungles of Costa Rica,
Founder and Executive Director