51 camera traps installed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through the Productive Landscapes Project, and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) in conjunction with communities in the productive landscapes of the La Amistad Conservation Area- Pacific (ACLA-P) captured 28 species of mammals.
UNDP and SINAC implement a citizen science model with the work of participatory biological monitoring brigades in 17 communities near the ACLA-P Protected Wild Areas (ASP). Work is carried out in the Los Santos Forest Reserve, the buffer zone of the Chirripó and La Amistad National Parks, and the Los Santos Protective Zone. Knowing the species that inhabit our environment is the first step to conserve them.
The UNDP Productive Landscapes Project completes 21 months of training, field work and union with residents of communities such as Savegre Abajo, San Gerardo de Rivas and Biolley.
In the most recent analysis of records, the cameras captured the presence of 28 species of mammals, among which are the 6 species of cats of Costa Rica, the tapir, the deer, the mountain goat, the saino, 3 types of monkeys, large rodents such as tepezcuintle and guatusa, anteater, 2 species of marsupial foxes, armadillos, coatis, raccoons, coyotes, among others.
Most of these mammals are in danger of extinction or with reduced populations. The UNDP and the SINAC encourage the inhabitants and producers to implement coexistence strategies in harmony with these wild animals, to denounce hunting and the loss of natural habitats.
For these communities, interaction with wildlife is common, which searches for food in natural ecosystems. 454 species of birds were also registered, of which 68 are endemic, that is, they are only observed in some sectors of Costa Rica and the border with Panama. It reflects the enormous potential of the region to promote bird tourism.
“It is key to conserve forests, river banks and streams, as they provide natural connectivity routes for the dispersal of these species, thus consolidating biological corridors. In the ASP buffer zone we need to reduce the pressure of human activities on biodiversity, ”said Jorge Picado Barboza, a UNDP biologist.
Citizen science to increase tourism
Since the program started, 250 people have joined the participatory biological monitoring brigades. Of the total participants, 36% are women. They have received a training process, in which the fundamental thing is to go out into the field to do the identification exercises.
The brigade members have a basic equipment to report the presence of wild species, either in scheduled tours or in their daily activities. Citizen science also promotes rural community tourism.
Blanca Rosa Mena Gamboa, a brigade member from Tres Colinas de Potrero Grande for a year, stressed that, although they knew the wildlife in the area, seeing them in the camera traps records is a reward and an incentive.
“We recorded the plumed hawk, a large bird that sometimes eats chickens. Many people are going to want to take out the carbine and blow it up. But let’s think about how we are going to have tourists who are going to want to see that particular species. From what we have obtained with the brigades – number of bird species, indicators that we are monitoring, knowing that there are felines, tapirs – tell the world what we have, that in Costa Rica there is a place called Tres Colinas, and we are close to the beach”, highlighted the community leader about the tourist potential.
Given the natural wealth of the ACLA-P buffer zone, initiatives for sustainable management of the territory should be consolidated. Under this approach, citizen science promotes rural community tourism. Brigades and communities will use the monitoring data to promote sustainable rural tourism and education ventures. The information is systematized in databases that will allow ACLA-P and SINAC to make decisions that conserve fauna.
The Jaguar example
To cite one example, the jaguar could be found throughout the country, however, the loss of its habitat due to deforestation, hunting and the decrease of its natural prey have caused that its population is currently confined to areas with protected forests. There is only one registry in the study communities. This species is considered to be in danger of extinction.
UNDP and SINAC are working on the officialization of a protocol for participatory biological monitoring in the National Ecological Monitoring Program (PRONAMEC). Thus, the experience of these 17 communities can be replicated in other conservation areas of the country.