Osa Conservation – Costa Rica Part 4: WildlifeKate Working with Osa Conservation

One of the reasons I went out to Osa Conservation was to explores how some of my skills, knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm could be put to good use by the organisation. My work with Bushnell was also another element of my involvement. I first got to know Andy when I worked with him to get multiple Bushnell trail cams for his arboreal camera work in Peru. He is keen to continue this work in the Osa Peninsula. I travelled out in this week, in particular, because there was to be a Trailcam Conference, pulling in a range of trail cam researchers, scientists and landowners together to share knowledge, experience and to create a network of users. The aim is that al the trail cams will be used in a more focused way throughout the peninsula to deliver useful, scientific data. This will involve a shared approach to setting and recording of footage. It is a very exciting prospect. I was asked to speak at the conference, sharing the work I do in the UK and showing some of the new models of trail cams available.

The conference was up at one of the other research Stations, The Greg Gund Conservation Centre. This is the educational campus located on the Cerra Osa property. This Conservation Center also includes a beautiful education centre donated to us by the Gund family. The education centre includes a casual dining hall, kitchen, office, and is one of the best locations to hold workshops, educational courses, and general group assemblies.

Eleanor and I opted to walk from Piro, up to the centre in the morning, ready for the conference. This would involve a hike through the rainforest for about an hour and a half… uphill! I was keen to spend as much time in the forest as I could and I relished the opportunity to spend time with Eleanor, on foot. It was close to 30 degrees and just about 100% humidity! On the whole, it stayed dry, with a few showers to cool us down as we trekked…

I just loved walking through the forest; the sights, sounds, smells and whole atmosphere is all consuming. Eleanor was perfect company and we chatted the whole way…. when we were spotting birds, listening to the medley of calls and following monkeys high in the trees…

A final push up a muddy track (that is treacherous in rain and becomes like the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ final Challenge Game!) and we were just about there. The view was amazing, as we were now rising out of the rainforest and we were above the canopy. The humidity was decreasing and the air seemed much cooler and more refreshing after the high humidity lower down in the valley.

Arriving at The Greg Gund Conservation Centre, Eleanor and I headed up to Andy’s house, had a quick shower and got changed… we were soaked to the skin and it was good to get changed into dry clothes and to freshen up. We headed to the education centre and joined the rest of the team and some of the visitors for some lunch. It was great to meet and chat with so many trail cam users. Over 100 trail cams are now in operation on  Costa Rica properties belonging to eco-lodges, ranches, conservation organisations and private individuals who are now aiming to work together to create a more accurate picture of big-cat populations in an area. Work with trail cameras has helped conservationists understand that four of the big cats (puma, margay, jaguarundi and ocelot) are doing well in the dense tropical forests of Costa Rica’s Pacific coastal region but that the jaguar remains critically endangered within the region, and in the country as a whole.  One of the aims of getting users together at this meeting was to create some unified, joined up use of the cameras out in the forest, so that sightings can be recorded centrally.

As part of its effort to save the jaguar, Osa Conservation is trying to create a contiguous “corridor” of territory on the northern shore of Golfo Dulce between the Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks, to increase the amount of undisturbed forest that is available for the animals to roam. They wasn’t to concentrate of collecting jaguar images, suing these images to identify and track individuals across the region. Ideally, two cameras need to be set at each location, so markings on both sides of the individual can be recorded. I met with Juan Carlos Cruz Diaz, wild cat program coordinator for Osa Conservation, and learnt about their exciting ideas for camera trap networks. I really hope I can help in this work.

I spoke to the guests about my work and answered questions, learning more about what they