Protect Caribbean Rainforest in Costa Rica

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Dear Supporter, 

This month the staff at the GVI Jalova Biological Research Station had the opportunity to present information and data collected over the past year to the Costa Rican park rangers stationed in Tortuguero National Park. 

Over a two days the rangers were given presentations about objectives of the projects run at Jalova and information on our most recent findings.

Day one included presentations on the work that GVI volunteers carry out, including new species sightings and a monitoring study of biodiversity in the region, including turtle nesting, canal birds, spider monkeys and jaguars.

The park rangers, who are employed by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, patrol the park on a rotational basis. They have excellent knowledge of the park as a whole but have little experience with the scientific or research side- most rangers specialize in protection or tourist education.

Our aim with the presentations was to further build our partnership with the park, by involving and engaging the rangers in our research, continuing ongoing communications and to present new project ideas and encourage discussions about how to move forward. The presentations were a success and achieved their aims.  As a result, GVI Jalova has received a list of species and potential new projects that MINAE are interested in and has begun discussions on how to support MINAE and the park in achieving their research goals. This is something that everyone involved is excited about as it means we have some new and exciting ideas on the horizon for the Jalova research station. 

The jaguar presentation held on the second day was presented by our partners at Jaguar Conservation on the North-Eastern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Those in attendance included the MINAE Rangers at the Tortuguero Station as well as some of the GVI staff and volunteers who had just completed the ‘Jagwalk’ survey, a 14.5 mile walk aimed to assess the jaguar population, habitat use and predation trends of jaguars on marine turtles along the coastal habitat of the Tortuguero National Park.

The main objectives of the project are to determine jaguar population trends; assess the abundance of jaguar prey species and document the social and feeding behaviours of jaguars in relation to their predation on marine turtles within the coastal habitat. This is accomplished through the use of camera traps – using both permanent and semi-permanent stations – and surveying jaguar predation on marine turtles via the aforementioned Jagwalk survey. 

During the presentation, we were re-introduced to these objectives as well as the interesting statistical analysis, completed with the aid of the data collected by GVI Jalova. These included jaguar interactions, the abundance of prey species at the different permanent stations, types of social behaviours seen around a predated turtle (aggression, sharing) and the activity of various jaguars at the various permanent stations.   This along with the photographic and video evidence of jaguar behaviours made for a very informative and interesting presentation. 

Presentations like these are a great way to check in, share knowledge and decide on how best to move forward. We are so looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for us. 

Thank you for your ongoing support!

With Gratitude, 

GVI Costa Rica

Links:

Can you spot Sebastian?
Can you spot Sebastian?

Dear Supporter,

In 2012 GVI entered into partnership with Panthera Costa Rica and independent researcher Stephanny Arroyo-Arce to further develop its existing ‘Jaguar Project’. Started in 2005 to monitor the jaguars of Tortuguero National Park and their predator-prey interaction with marine turtles, this project has documented several unique behaviour previously unrecorded for this species.

Using specialised camera-trapping systems designed to capture high-resolution images, Sebastian spent two weeks at GVI’s Jalova Research Station working with staff and representatives of Conservación del Jaguar en el Noreste Caribeño de Costa Rica, the project founded by Stephanny Arroyo-Arce, and past GVI Jaguar Project Manager, Ian Thomson. The objectives were to install custom camera traps on sites of predation events to document the jaguar population of Tortuguero feeding activities on species of marine turtle.

Camera trapping is an invaluable tool available to scientist and the general public allowing them to document species without the need to capture animals, or disturb them through direct observation. When conducted correctly, this method of observation can be considered one of the least invasive, providing incredibly accurate data that can be reviewed and interpreted multiple times. Today’s modern camera traps are remotely activated cameras, based around passive infrared (PIR) system. These systems are able to take pictures and videos 24 hours a day.

During Sebastian’s visit, he brought three of these systems to Jalova, and over the course of his two week stay installed them on two trail locations as well as five instances of turtle predation by jaguars. We are happy to announce that with the support of GVI and Conservación del Jaguar en el Noreste Caribeño de Costa Rica he was able to fulfil his assignment for Panthera and captured several striking images of this cryptic species before returning to the United States.

We wish Sebastian all the best and recommend you check out his web site Puma Pix to see all the excellent work he has done to promote wildcat conservations (also the amazing pictures he has) and look forward to Panthera publishing the images from Jalova in the future.

With Gratitude,

GVI Costa Rica

Our Jag team!
Our Jag team!

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Baby leatherback turtle
Baby leatherback turtle

Dear Supporter,

Turtle nesting season has started and we are working hard to gather essential data.

GVI conducts research on marine turtles that nest in the southern end of Tortuguero National Park (TNP). The research takes places in two stages, night patrols and daily nest checks on a 3.5 mile stretch of beach starting at the Jalova river mouth. 

TNP is a nesting area for leatherback turtles, an IUCN endangered species, from approximately March – June each year. Occasionally hawksbill and loggerhead turtles are also encountered laying eggs here.  GVI volunteers have had the opportunity to observe and study many of these beautiful, giant animals during the current leatherback season.

Different from other marine turtle species, leatherback turtles do not have a hard carapace- commonly known as the “shell”. Istead, they have a mosaic of small bones covered by thick skin. Their size varies from 130cm to 183cm, however the largest ever recorded was over 3meters long! Their weight can range from 300kg to 500kg.  The incubation period of a leatherback turtle is around 65 days, and you can find approximately 80 eggs per nest.

As leatherbacks are the largest of the sea turtles, and one of the most endangered, patrolling their nesting beaches tagging, measure & monitor (which is called “working” a turtle) is an important research activity to be able to record presence and the history of leatherbacks. All data collected by GVI and our volunteers goes to our partner organization, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), to be compiled with their data and produce reports for the national park, the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment, the scientific community and the general public, on the state of turtles and nesting in TNP. It also contributes to the worldwide body of knowledge on marine turtles and nesting.

Night patrols at Jalova are conducted from 8pm to 1am. Our objective is to collect data on sea turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. As part of the protocol designed by our partners at the STC, turtles are tagged for individual identification, and biometric data, for example, carapace length is measured and recorded. Our volunteer research assistants work alongside GVI staff to collect this information throughout the night.

We have also done a marathon night patrol covering Jalova to Tortuguero Town, a 15 mile stretch taking 7 hours on foot. After every one of these night patrols, a nest check patrol went out the following morning to oversee the state of all the nest that have been marked during the season, and that are being monitor to determinate the stage and conditions of the nests. All this data gives us information on the survival rates of the nests and the hatchlings, and also gives us a better understanding overall of our beach and our turtles. 

For the first period of 2015 leatherback season, from April to mid May, GVI has worked 37 leatherback turtles and marked 19 leatherbacks nests, as well as 1 hawksbill nest. That means that so far this year, GVI has worked and marked more leatherback sea turtles than last year’s total count for the season.

We thank you for your continued support, without your generous donations research such as this would not be possible. 

Best Wishes, 

GVI Costa Rica

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Mangrove Cuckoo
Mangrove Cuckoo

Dear Supporter,

Since the start of 2015, six new species (5 birds, 1 mammal) have already been added to the Jalova Species Inventory as a part of the Incidentals Project!

Birds have had the most success; accounting for five of the six new species added to the species list: Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Olive-backed Quail-Dove (Geotrygon veraguensis), Bicolored Hawk (Accipiter bicolor), Spotted Antbird (Hylophylax naevioides) and Dot-winged Antwren (Microrhopias quixensis). Additionally the Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor) (Figure 1.) was seen from the beach and found foraging in coastal vegetation in January. Though this is already included on the inventory, it has not been seen for over 2 years and, according to our field guides, the species is not thought to occur in this area. Our intern James identified the bird and is using it as one of the 10 ¨tricky Id’s¨ which he needs to achieve as a part of the internship.

It is not often we add a large mammal to the species inventory; however 2015 seems to be a lucky year. The Greater Grison (Galictis vittata) was spotted in the coconut plantation by staff members Renato and Charlotte while setting up an orienteering course for new volunteers. These animals are considered rare throughout their wide range and Costa Rica is the only country in which they are legally protected. They are carnivorous and primarily consume small vertebrates including snakes. Greater Grison has subtle webbing between their toes making them adept swimmers. Like their skunk relatives, the Grison secretes a pungent musk from their anal glands when threatened.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, a Mexican Prehensile-tailed Porcupine (Coendou mexicanus) was recently seen on base, just outside the kitchen. The last visual we had on this species was in September, 2012; however we knew one had made the Jalova base home because we had caught it twice on camera traps set up in the trees on base just before Christmas, 2014.

Staff and volunteers are feeling motivated by the success of the New Year and hope to continue adding species´ at this rate throughout 2015

Thank you for your continued support on this project!

All the best

GVI Jalova

Links:

Dear Supporter, 

“Bogue Fest” is an annual event held to thank the community in and around Tortuguero for all the work they do during turtle season when tourism is at its peak.  What does “bogue” mean?  Well, that is the local spelling for the English word “boogie”! The festival used to be called TortuFest (for the Spanish word for turtle, “Tortuga”) to recognize the festival’s main theme, but this year the organizer’s have decided to make this party even more festive, and bring everyone out to boogie on down, hence the new official name “Bogue (boogie) Fest””!  This truly sums up the spirit of this music & dance-filled village with such a fascinating mix Caribbean & Latino history & roots, tucked away within the national park. This is the second year running that GVI Jalova has participated in the festival; conducting wildlife and environment themed activities for children to fit alongside various other workshops including circus skills and mask-making in a weekend that brings the community together.

Day 1 saw staff and volunteers teaching local children about the wildlife in the national park and playing traditional games, whilst on day 2 Jalova made their presence known by participating in the boat parade alongside schools, calypso bands and our partner the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Hopefully turtle season 2015 will be just as successful and Jalova can continue to build relationships with the community.

Thank you for supporting this program.

All the best

GVI Jalova

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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.gvi.org
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
Exeter, Devon United Kingdom