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Saving Mono Titi Conservation Project Top Donors

Eco preservation Society would like to thank our top donors:

Charles Turner $23,000
Eco Interactive Vacations $10,000
Boyero Tours $500
Firetown $500
David Abernathy $200
Search Feature $100
Judy Orr $100
Jennifer Karlen $100
Milan Cole $100
Lisa Gray $100
Wayne Long $100
William Myers $100.00
Suzie Norvich $35
Robert Kennedy $35.00
Michael Higdon  $35.00

To Help Save Mono Titi – CLICK HERE


Related Stories:
More about the Saving Mono Titi documentary
A history of African Palm Production
Ten Reasons not to feed the monkeys.
Costa Rican company leads Resource Revolution

Other Resurces:
Saving Mono Titi Web Site
Eco Preservation Society

Kids Saving the Rainforest
ASCOMOTI

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Filed under: Family Eco Travel, Reforestation, Sustainable Living, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , ,

Costa Rica’s Harlequin Frog, once thought extict, florishes on the Rainmaker Reserve.

Costa Rica Frog

It has been suspected for some time that global warming may cause widespread amphibian extinctions. In a study published in 2006 by J. Alan Pounds suggested that Costa Rica Frogmany harlequin frog species (Atelopus) across Central and South America have disappeared due to deadly infectious diseases spurred by changing water and air temperatures.

At one time the Harlequin Frog (actually a toad) was thought to be extinct. In 2003 the Harlequin Frog was rediscovered in the primary rain forest of the Rainmaker Reserve on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

“Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger,” said Pounds, lead study author and resident scientist at Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve.

“Global warming is wreaking havoc on amphibians and will cause staggering losses of biodiversity if we don’t do something fast.”

Costa Rica VacationThe World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed this frog as Critically Endangered and facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, because most of them have disappeared since 1988. In 1996, in fact, scientists feared that all of the more than one hundred populations known to exist in Costa Rica were already gone. Seven years later, however, a tiny population was discovered at Rainmaker Reserve.

About two-thirds of the 110 known harlequin frog species are believed to have vanished during the 1980s and 1990s. The primary culprit, Pounds suggests, is the disease-causing chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

Amphibian skin is extremely thin, which makes frogs acutely sensitive to even minor changes in temperature, humidity, and air or water quality. It also makes frogs more susceptible to chytrid fungus.

Costa Rica FrogThe new study suggests that temperature extremes may have previously helped keep the deadly disease in check. But new climate cycles are now moderating those annual temperature swings.

Global warming has increased evaporation in the tropical mountains of the Americas, which in turn has promoted cloud formation, the study reports. That cloud cover may have actually decreased daytime temperatures by blocking sunlight. At the same time, it may have served as an insulating blanket to raise nighttime highs.

Pounds believes the combination has created ideal conditions for the spread of the frog-killing fungus, which grows and reproduces best at temperatures between 63° and 77°F (17° and 25°C).

Related Article about Rainmaker Reserve.

Related Article About Amphibians in Costa Rica

Harlequin Frogs True Toads and Relatives: Bufonidae – Harlequin Frog (atelopus Varius): Species Accounts

Extraordinary Video from Rainmaker Reserve

Filed under: Climate Change, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Costa Rica’s Mysterious Mangroves – A Treasured and Exotic Habitat

by Richard Garrigues

In the nebulous zone between high and low tide, where freshwater meets saltwater and the ground is neither liquid nor solid, grow the mangroves.

Inhabitants of inter-tidal zones throughout the tropics and subtropics, mangroves are a most curious collection of plants. It is easy to make the erroneous assumption that the different kinds of mangrove trees are closely related species adapted to the unique conditions in which they grow. Even their English common names (red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, buttonwood mangrove, etc.) lend to the idea that these are merely different species of the same plant family, as if they were maples or oaks.

In reality, the mangroves are a wonderful example of convergent evolution—a situation in which totally unrelated organisms have evolved certain similarities simply because those are the characteristics best suited for making use of a particular resource. And in this case the resource is a place where a plant might grow if it can overcome the two major difficulties faced by mangroves: the salinity of the sea water which saturates the ground they grow in and the absence of oxygen in that same saturated mud.

In Costa Rica there are seven species of mangrove trees from four very different plant families: the red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle and R. harrisonii, Rhizophoraceae), the black mangroves (Avicennia germinans and A. bicolor, Verbenaceae), the tea mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae, Theaceae), the white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa, Combretaceae), and the buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus, Combretaceae). In Costa Rica, any and all of these plants are called mangle (man-gley) and the association in which they grow a manglar.

Of the mangroves found in Costa Rica, the red mangrove is the most easily recognized with its striking aerial prop roots, which often branch one or more times before reaching the ground. The primary function of these roots is not to support the tree but to aid in the aeration of the plant’s sap system.

The black mangrove, and to some extent the white mangrove, cope with the lack of air in the mucky substrate by developing vertical extensions from their roots which stick above the soil level and (at low tide) accomplish oxygen exchange. The tea mangrove has pronounced buttresses which act as aerators. The buttonwood mangrove effectively avoids this problem by growing on the back edges or higher ground within a mangrove swamp, thus reducing the likelihood of having the soil around its roots supersaturated except at extreme high tides.

Mangroves have developed various ways to deal with the problem of high salt concentrations in the water around them. Some species secrete salt from their roots and/or leaves. Pacific coast black mangroves can be observed in the dry season with salt crystals along the outer edges of their leaves (secretion of salt through the leaves happens throughout the year, but is not usually observed in the rainy season because the rain washes off the salt).

In some mangroves, such as the red mangrove, salt is stored in the older leaves which soon fall off the tree. And in other species, it appears that salt is simply tolerated in much higher levels than is common in most plants.

As a result of the rather severe conditions where mangroves grow, there is not much plant diversity. Correspondingly, the animal life associated with mangroves is not nearly as diverse as it is in other lowland habitats in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, what mangrove swamps may lack in numbers of species they make up for with numbers of individuals.

At certain times of the year the tops of mangrove trees are filled with nesting birds. In the Tempisque River, the Isla de Pájaros, or Bird Island, is an impressive example of this phenomenon. Each year hundreds of Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Anhingas, and Neotropical Cormorants reproduce on this protected patch of mid-river mangroves.

In the mangrove of Damas Island you will find White Faced Monkey which many a visitor will have a close encounter. But please, do not feed the monkeys.

Part of the reason for the concentration of nesting and roosting birds in the mangroves could be that it serves as a sanctuary from terrestrial and climbing predators. The bases of the trees are under water almost nearly of the time and even when they are exposed by receding tides, the soft mud that surrounds them is a deterrent to many creatures.

Below the water’s surface in areas where mangroves grow one can find a high diversity of life forms. Among the mangrove’s root systems many marine organisms live or spend a portion of their lives. Such creatures include algae, corals, barnacles, sponges, oysters, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, octopi, and fishes. The importance of mangroves to the health of the marine ecosystem is immeasurable.

Unfortunately, in Costa Rica and the rest of the world, mangrove forests are being destroyed and their sites converted to fish pens, rice paddies, salt-drying ponds, cattle pasture, tourist developments and human settlements. Mangrove wood makes good fuel and excellent charcoal, but over-harvesting has contributed to their demise. Additionally, the red mangrove is an important source of tannin (used in processing leather), but the stripping of the bark to get the tannin kills the individual trees.

All mangroves in Costa Rica are protected by law, but there is not always someone around to enforce the law. Nevertheless, there are still large areas of mangroves lining estuaries and mouths of rivers and streams along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Mangrove development is not as common on the Caribbean coast, because there is little variation in the height of the tides, but one area where some very tall red mangroves can be seen is along the extensive canal system between Limón and Tortuguero.

Filed under: Family Eco Travel, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ten Reasons Not to Feed the Monkeys

You might find feeding the monkeys (and other wild animals) to be a thrilling experience, but you are not doing the monkeys a favor. In fact, you are actually harming them. Here’s why:

1.Monkeys are highly susceptible to diseases from human hands. They can die from bacteria transferred off your hand that has no ill effect on you.
2.Migration to human-populated areas to be fed increases the risk of dog attacks and road accidents.
3.Irregular feeding leads to an aggressive behavior towards humans and other species.
4.Contrary to the stereotype, bananas are not the preferred food of monkeys in the wild. Bananas, especially those containing pesticides, can be upsetting to the monkeys’ delicate digestive system and cause serious dental problems that can lead to eventual death.
5.Feeding creates a dangerous dependency on humans that diminishes the monkeys’ survival abilities.
6.Feeding interferes with the monkeys’ natural habits and upsets the balance of their lifestyle centered on eating wild fruits, seeds, small animals, and insects.
7.Contact with humans facilitates poaching and the trade in illegal wildlife.
8.Pregnant females who are fed nothing but bananas during their pregnancy will not give birth to healthy infants. The babies will be malnourished, or never develop to term, and die before birth.
9.Monkeys need to travel an average of 17 kilometers each day to be in good physical condition. If they know that food is available in a particular location, they will not leave that area.
10.Not only do we pass on diseases to animals when we feed them by hand, but they can pass diseases to us as well.

The monkeys do not realize any of this. Now YOU do. Don’t facilitate the extinction of one of Nature’s most amazing creatures for your own pleasure or financial gain. Please help save the monkeys by reporting anyone feeding the monkeys: 777-2592. If you are feeding the monkeys, you now know why you should stop. If you don’t stop we owe it to the monkeys to publish your name with the local media.

Text Courtesy of Jennifer Rice PhD
President
Kids Saving The Rainforest
Tel. 506.777.2592 Fax 506.777.1954
contact@kidssavingtherainforest.org
http://www.kidssavingtherainforest.org

Filed under: Family Eco Travel, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Brief History of African Palm Production in Costa Rica

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The African palm (elaeis guineensis) was introduced to this area by The United Fruit Company (Chiquita) as an experimental response to the Panama banana plight which was decimating crops during the 1940’s. In the two decades prior to the outbreak of the disease, the town of Quepos had firmly established itself as a significant banana port. Railways for the transport of fruit from more than 14,000 hectares of plantation (mostly in the Parrita valley) crisscrossed the land and eventually merged into tracks that paralleled the Quepos waterfront and came to an end at the dock. The United Fruit Company was heavily invested in local banana production/exportation and stood to lose a substantial amount if they didn’t come up with an alternative plan to counter the banana plight. To make a long success story short: United Fruit Company was able to make the transition from banana production to palm oil processing in so many brilliantly cost effective ways (example: they used disassembled rail tracks to make the bridges over the now necessary irrigation ditches) that by the time the Panama banana disease was fully eradicated some twenty years later, the African Palm fields were successfully entrenched and profitable.

By the 1970’s the African Palm oil industry was prospering in Quepos, Costa Rica. Consequently, because palm oil is easily transported overland by tanker truck, Quepos declined as a major shipping port. In 1995, the local African Palm business was sold to private investors (Palma Tica) and thus a very influential period in the history of modern day Quepos, United Fruit Company era, came to an end.

The African Palm

African Palms produce pods of palm oil kernels (also known as oil dates) that contain rich oil. Processed palm oil is used in a variety of products. Every day items such as lipstick, cosmetics, candies, margarines, industrial lubricants, and soaps are just a few of the many commercial goods that contain African Palm oil. The pods are harvested when the fruits are bright orange-red. A new African Palm will produce its first pods after about three years, and then regularly thereafter if properly maintained. The African Palm can live to be over 200 years old. After a couple of decades, non-hybrid African Palms grow to tall to be properly maintained by workers and therefore become much less productive. For this reason, non- hybrid trees are being systematically killed off and almost all of the African Palms being planted today are hybrid clones that produce shorter trees that are more easily maintained.

The Pods

Plantation fieldwork is specialized. One class of worker uses machetes and poison to keep the base of each tree clear so that snakes don’t interfere with the next group of workers who are responsible for keeping the leaves trimmed so that the following group of fruit cutters have easy access to the mature fruit. When a mature pod is cut it crashes to the ground and several individual “dates” may break loose and scatter. A different group of workers (usually women and children) are responsible to collect these individual dates in bushel bags. The strongest workers load the large pods onto oxcarts or tractor driven trailers that then ultimately transport them to a processing plant.

Palm oil

The pods are harvested when the fruits are a bright orange-red. A new African Palm will produce its first pods after about three years, and then regularly thereafter if properly maintained. African Palms can live to be over 200 years old. After a couple of decades, non- hybrid African Palms grow too tall to be properly maintained and therefore become much less productive. For this reason, non-hybrid African Palms being planted today are hybrid clones that produce shorter trees that are more easily maintained.

Eco Preservation Society thanks for permission to reprint this article.

Also see:
Costa Rica Rain Forest and Carbon Offsets
Saving Mono Titi – The Documentary

Filed under: Carbon Offsets, Reforestation, Wildlife Conservation, , , , , , , ,

Saving Mono Titi Documentary

The Story of the Mono Titi

Manuel Antonio Park is the crown jewel of the Costa Rican National Park system. Some would say that it is the birthplace of Eco Tourism. Manuel Antonio Park is also one of the two restricted habitats of the highly endangered Mono Titi squirrel monkey.

CLICK HERE TO HELP SAVE THE MONO TITI

Among the smallest of all primates, weighing in at around one and half pounds, the Mono Titi is as endearing as any creature in nature. Known as the “peaceful primates”, their social structure is unique in the egalitarian nature of their interactions. Both male and female nurture their young and they enjoy equal status within their troops. They live, they play and they love with the youthful exuberance of a band of mischievous teenagers on a holiday bash.

Prior to the middle of the twenty-century, the Pacific Coast of Central America was a sparsely inhabited frontier of wild coastal jungle. The Mono Titi had a range that extended hundreds of miles along the Pacific Coasts of Panama and Costa Rica. During the 1950’s Costa Rica emerged from third-world impoverishment through a nation wide effort to develop large-scale agricultural capacity across the country. The Pacific Coast region experienced widespread deforestation with the introduction of banana and cattle. This trend has played itself out to a degree where the habitat of the Mono Titi has now become so fragmented that their long-term survivability is in jeopardy.

Today Mono Titi’s habitat has been reduced to two restricted areas. There is a population in and around the Manuel Antonio National Park and there is another population in Corcovado National Park to the south. The Manuel Antonio habitat is an area that is less than 3000 acres in total. It is estimated that only around 1,700 of the animals are left in existence.

Over the last two decades the economy of Coast Rica has seen a gradual shift away from an agricultural based economy to a tourism based economy. Enlightened governmental policies have set aside more than 25% of the country as National Parks and Protected Areas. Costa Rica has some of the most stringent environmental laws in the world. Unfortunately a lack of funding has made enforcement difficult.

Over the last two decades the economy of Coast Rica has seen a gradual shift away from an agricultural based economy to a tourism based economy. Enlightened governmental policies have set aside more than 25% of the country as National Parks and Protected Areas. Costa Rica has some of the most stringent environmental laws in the world. Unfortunately a lack of funding has made enforcement difficult.

After nearly 20 years of development as one of the world’s premier eco tourism destinations, the Manuel Antonio community is struggling with its identity. There is no better symbol of this identity crisis than the Mono Titi itself. Thousand of visitors flock here each year for a communal experience with nature. Yet the march forward into a world-class tourist destination threatens the area’s star attraction, the wonderful, peaceful and playful Mono Titi. As this community struggles to enforce its environmental laws and keep rampant development in check, the fate of the Mono Titi hangs in the balance. Today the future of the Mono Titi is uncertain.

After nearly 20 years of development as one of the world’s premier eco tourism destinations, the Manuel Antonio community is struggling with its identity. There is no better symbol of this identity crisis than the Mono Titi itself. Thousand of visitors flock here each year for a communal experience with nature. Yet the march forward into a world-class tourist destination threatens the area’s star attraction, the wonderful, peaceful and playful Mono Titi. As this community struggles to enforce its environmental laws and keep rampant development in check, the fate of the Mono Titi hangs in the balance. Today the future of the Mono Titi is uncertain.

After nearly 20 years of development as one of the world’s premier eco tourism destinations, the Manuel Antonio community is struggling with its identity. There is no better symbol of this identity crisis than the Mono Titi itself. Thousand of visitors flock here each year for a communal experience with nature. Yet the march forward into a world-class tourist destination threatens the area’s star attraction, the wonderful, peaceful and playful Mono Titi. As this community struggles to enforce its environmental laws and keep rampant development in check, the fate of the Mono Titi hangs in the balance. Today the future of the Mono Titi is uncertain.

In some respects Manuel Antonio can be seen as ground zero in our fight to protect our planet. The plight of the Mono Titi begs the question: if we can’t get this right in a place like Manuel Antonio, then where can we get it right? Manuel Antonio is a community where the economy depends on protecting its natural treasures. If we cannot save an endangered species like the Mono Titi in the very cradle of eco tourism industry, if we cannot reverse the trend here, then where can we reverse the trend?

Our film examines these issues within a historical context to bring the plight of the Mono Titi to life. With Cooperation from Eco Preservation Society, The Phoenix Zoo, Kids Saving the Rainforest, The Association for the Preservation of the Mono Titi and the Rainmaker Conservation Project, we have over 30 hours of filming completed with interviews with over 20 individuals. We examine corruption and illegal deforestation that takes place to this day. We look at the effects of the tourism industry and the effects of people interacting with the animals. We have interviews with Costa Rican and American School children and their perspectives. We have historical interviews with the former manager of the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Banana) and people instrumental with establishing the park. We also feature a one of a kind interactive squirrel monkey exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo.

We want to thank you for your interest in the Saving Mono Titi project and we encourage you to support our efforts to save this wonderful creature. For more information on how you can help, visit the Saving Mono Titi web site

Related Stories:
A brief history of African Palm
Support the Eco Preservation Society
Take an Eco Interactive Tour to visit Mono Titi

Filed under: Reforestation, Wildlife Conservation, , , ,

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