Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park – Camaronal Wildlife Refugee – Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

Corcovado National Park

   Corcovado wilderness was excellent to explore an amazing biodiversity hotspot, which allowed me to study the structure and function of tropical ecosystems and have the great opportunity of meeting Park rangers that patrol the national park. Here nature can induce calmness and serenity, and immediately alarm by hearing the sound of a jaguar charging.

Corcovado is one of Costa Rica’s most remote parks. It is located on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica and is considered the crown jewel. National Geographic famously categorised it as “the most biologically intense place on the planet”, with 2.5% of the biodiversity of the entire planet, including endemic and endangered species. The variety of species never ends with 500 species of trees, 375 species of birds with the protected scarlet macaw (Ara macao), 140 mammals with the famous nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), 116 amphibians and reptiles, 40 types of freshwater fish, and 6,000-10,000 different kinds of insects – including 220 species of butterflies.

However, it seems this label is not enough to stop the attraction for gold and timber reserves. Therefore, a dramatic battle has been taking place to provide sustainable development to an alternative form to logging and mining. The threats have decreased gradually by engaging local people in the environmental education and protection. Consequently, good park management is essential to prosper in an uncertain future.

Camaronal Wildlife Refugee

   I cooperated in the conservation efforts by protecting newly laid eggs from potential predators, saving baby turtles that would likely not have survived, which make Camaronal a critical location for the continued survival of these endangered species.

Camaronal is situated along Costa Rica’s North Pacific coastline. The refuge preserves one of Costa Rica’s treasures, the sea turtle. But not only one! Of the seven species of sea turtle that can be found throughout the world, four of them can be found on the shores of Camaronal beach, including the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

  • Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) – Categorized as Vulnerable on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Leatherback eggs and animals are taken for human use (i.e. consumption and commercial products).
  • Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) – Critically Endangered (IUCN). The most important threats are tortoiseshell trade, egg collection, slaughter for meat, destruction of nesting habitat, destruction of foraging habitat and oil pollution.
  • Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) – Vulnerable (IUCN). They are prone to population declines because of slow growth rate in combination with anthropogenic impacts. These can accumulate over an extended development through various life periods, multiple habitats (nesting beaches, migratory routes and pelagic foraging zones) and vast geographic areas.
  • Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) – Endangered (IUCN). The most negative human threats to green turtles are the intentional harvests of eggs and adults from nesting beaches and juveniles and adults from foraging grounds.

Furthermore, the project study the local perceptions towards sea turtles and more important engaging local communities to protect sea turtles. As a result, there has been an increasing number of community-based initiatives that slowed down the harvest of eggs and adults. However, despite these improvements, human impacts continue throughout the world and local, national and international commitment is essential to succeed.

Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

   I was part of the conservation and management team, which was the initial step in the development of my wildlife reserve managing skills and optimistic conservation view.

Nestled on the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. The forest provides refuge to a large variety of mammals. Predominant among these and very easily spotted are the howler (Alouatta palliata) and the white-face (Cebus capuchinus) monkeys. In addition, very abundant and easily seen are the white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) and the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). On the other hand, harder to spot are the margay (Felis wiedii) and the coyote (Cannis latrans). Nevertheless, the greatest wealth in fauna is in the abundant marine birds and marine mammals including orcas.

The site is home to the San Miguel Biological Station which promotes and supports different programs: including investigation, protection avoid illicit actions inside the reserve as the hunt, fishing, fire and any other extraction of forest products, and environmental education to support the community relationships to create a favorable atmosphere between the people living near the reserve.